A former Greens senator has welcomed a court’s “common sense” rejection of strict police bail conditions imposed on him after he was arrested during a climate change protest in Sydney.
Scott Ludlam was detained on Monday during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration when protesters sat down on a major city road.
He was subsequently ordered not to go within 2.5 kilometres of the Sydney Town Hall or attend further protests by the group after police raised concerns he would “endanger the safety of victims, individuals and the community”.
But deputy chief magistrate Jane Mottley threw out the restrictions on Thursday, saying the concerns “can be appropriately addressed by unconditional bail”.
Unconditional bail requires an accused person only to be of good behaviour.
Mr Ludlam was quick to praise “the really good decision”, which he said was common sense.
good. thanks to the pro bono legal crew who took this on at very short notice – this stuff really matters and it’s deeply appreciated 🙏🏼 https://t.co/wb3eWVgfwU
— Scott Ludlam (@Scottludlam) October 9, 2019
The result follows other cases of strict police bail conditions being rejected by the court earlier this week.
The former Greens senator said the outcome reflected poorly on NSW Police, urging it to lift similar conditions on other protesters.
“I hope the police use this as an opportunity to consider how they want to conduct themselves,” Mr Ludlam said.
“These demonstrations are not going to go away.”
NSW Police said it wouldn’t comment on individual bail conditions.
“Public safety is the first priority of police when it comes to protest activity,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
Ms Mottley said the charges – related to not obeying a direction given by traffic police – carried a maximum fine of $2200.
“These are not serious examples of offences which would ordinarily attract bail conditions,” the magistrate said in Downing Centre Local Court.
Mr Ludlam’s initial bail conditions prevented him from attending the court in Sydney’s CBD while fellow protester Kim Maree Warner – who also had her bail conditions lifted – was prevented from associating with any Extinction Rebellion protesters.
Both planned to plead not guilty to the single charge against them, the court heard on Thursday.
Their lawyer, Greg James QC, said police had taken extraneous considerations into account when imposing the bail conditions.
“Neither of those two matters address bail concerns … it’s sought to stifle legitimate political protest,” he said.
“The road was closed. There was no traffic.”
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge echoed Mr Ludlam’s call for police to drop similar conditions on 30 other protesters who’ve been charged.
Police should only impose “reasonable and necessary” bail conditions on protesters in future, he said.
Mr Shoebridge said it would be embarrassing for them to waste court time only to have the strict conditions thrown out once again.
Mr Ludlam earlier this week described his bail conditions as “wild” and said the case would be defended by telling the court protesters “are like the smoke alarm in a burning building”.