Essay by Eric Worrall
Australia’s Lismore court accepted a Section 14 Mental Health defence – not guilty due to cognitive impairment or mental health issues.
Blockade Australia Activist Mali Cooper Has Charges Dropped After Sydney Harbour Tunnel Protest
by CHARLES RUSHFORTH 27 SEPTEMBER 2022
Lismore local Mali Cooper was charged with wilfully preventing free passage of vehicles after locking herself in a car in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel during peak hour traffic in June.
Livestreaming the ensuing chaos as traffic banked up either side of her, Cooper stated the rationale behind the disruptive action was to enact systemic change after witnessing the devastation of the Lismore floods.
Before 2022, Cooper’s offence would normally impose a maximum penalty of $440, but after changes to protest laws in NSW — specifically designed to target climate protesters — these penalties were increased to $22,000, or jail time of up to two years.
Facing these penalties at Lismore local court this morning, Cooper had all of the charges against her squashed by magistrates under a section 14 mental health order.
…Read more: https://junkee.com/blockade-australia-verdict/342206
Are climate extremists like Cooper too delusional to face court? Arguably they are – people who genuinely believe the world is about to end may be incapable of rationally evaluating the consequences of their actions. What criminal act of salvation would be unacceptable if the world truly stood on the brink of destruction?
But the courts have a duty to protect the public, when someone’s mental impairment leads them to commit crimes. Blockade Australia claims Cooper has indicated she still believes in the climate crisis and direct action.
Let us hope Cooper receives proper psychological treatment for her climate mental health issues, and lets also hope any court appointed mental health providers take steps to protect the public from her harmful behaviour, otherwise there is a risk climate extremists like Cooper might see this case dismissal as a free pass to continue acting out their climate warrior fantasies.
Update (EW): While researching the Section 14 mental health defence, I noticed a lot of advertisements from State of New South Wales lawyers offering what appears to be an express service, for people to claim Section 14 if they are busted drink driving, smoking drugs or committing antisocial acts.