Pine Gap 4 have won their Appeal!

by Donna Mulhearn

Dear friends

Today [22 February 2008] Bryan, Jim, Adele and Donna were acquitted of tPhoto shows the four protesters outside court following their successful appeal. (Jack Kerr)heir convictions under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952.

It was a unanimous decision by the full bench of the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal.

The three judges agreed with our submission that there was a miscarriage of justice at last year’s trial because we were not able to bring evidence before the jury about the function of Pine Gap.

There were other grounds to the appeal, of a more technical nature. The judges will publish the detailed reasons for their decision in coming weeks.

The Prosecution quickly sought a re-trial, but was quickly rebutted.

“What would be achieved for these individuals or the community if there is a re-trial?” asked Justice Riley rather sternly.

The judges unanimously ruled there would be no re-trial.

The fact that we had already served prison time was a significant factor in their decision to refuse a re-trial. We are all very glad we did this as now our slate is clean regarding the other charge of ‘damage’, under the crimes act. So now it’s all over!

This ‘David vs Goliath’ outcome is a result of the excellent work of our legal team: Ron Merkel QC, Rowena Orr and Russell Goldflam. Their commitment, persistence and brilliance was amazing. They should be heartily congratulated. (I hope to have a way for you all to do that soon).

The result now raises significant questions for the Government about the use of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952. It was the first, and mostly likely last time it will be used in this context.

It is a victory for fairness and common sense, and a slap in the face for Prosecutor’s who seek to use draconian legislation to respond to pacifists partaking in non-violent civil disobedience with an extreme witchunt.

Congratulations to our Pine Gap colleagues Jessica Morrison and Sean O’Reilly and thanks to everyone involved in our journey since December 2005.

It’s been an amazing experience for all of us!

Rise Up!

Put Pine Gap on trial!

cheers from

Donna, Jim. Adele, Bryan

PS: Within 10 minutes of the ruling there was national media coverage on most major newspaper websites as well as ABC Radio and TV.

PPS: Some pics to come, news reports below,21985,23257820-5005961,00.html

See also the pamphlet published by the PG4:

“Liberating Pine Gap” by Jim Dowling (ed.)

Court finds in favour of Pine Gap protestors

ABC Online Posted February 22, 2008 14:15:00
Updated February 22, 2008 14:22:00

The Territory’s Court of Criminal Appeal has quashed the convictions of four protesters who broke into the Pine Gap defence facility three years ago.

Last year, Bryan Law, Adele Goldie, Jim Dowling and Donna Mulhearn were found guilty of breaking into the spy base using wire cutters in the Northern Territory Supreme Court in Alice Springs. They were the first people to be charged under the Defence Special Undertakings Act of 1952. The foursome were fined a total of $3,000.

They appealed against their convictions, and today the Territory’s full Court of Criminal Appeal found in their favour.

It’s now off to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether to pursue a retrial or drop the matter.

Minor convictions for trespass and criminal damage will still stand.

9 thoughts on “Pine Gap 4 have won their Appeal!

  1. SUNDAY TERRITORIAN – “Star Wars Invaders Set Free”
    Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

    FOUR anti-war protesters have been acquitted of national security charges for penetrating the Territory’s Pine Gap spy base.
    And the surprise verdict has raised doubts over whether peaceful invaders of Pine Gap can be charged under current federal laws.

    Christians Against All Terrorism members Bryan Law, 52, Donna Mulhearn, 39, Jim Dowling, 52, and Adele Goldie, 31, rejoiced in Darwin after the Court of Criminal Appeal unanimously acquitted the four, who were the first Australians to be charged under the 1952 Defence (Special Undertakings) Act. And the activists vowed to launch another “attack” at the spy base on Anzac Day.

    “It’s a vindication of a position we’ve been taking for 2 years — Pine Gap is not a base for the defence of Australia,” Mr Law said on the Supreme Court steps.

    “Pine Gap is an instrument of international aggression and the base of the bombing and murder of innocent civilians in Iraq. The Commonwealth Government has been trying … to punish us to the maximum extent possible for an expression of conscience.”

    The four activists were the first civilians to cut the fence and penetrate a technical area of the spy base, taking photos of equipment that were published by the media.

    They were convicted and fined $3250 in the Territory Supreme Court in June, with the offences carrying a maximum penalty of seven years’ jail.

    The Commonwealth DPP this week appealed the “manifestly inadequate” sentences, and the four activists then cross-appealed to have their convictions quashed.

    Yesterday, it took Chief Justice Martin and Justices Trevor Riley and David Angel just minutes to agree that there had been a “miscarriage of justice”, as the four had not been allowed to argue before a jury that Pine Gap was not a “defence facility” for Australia.

    They also disallowed an application by the Commonwealth DPP for a re-trial.

    “The defendants were deprived of a possible defence, mainly establishing that the facility was not necessary for defence purposes,” Chief Justice Brian Martin said yesterday.

    Ms Mulhearn said the decision meant that the Federal Government would “have to” review the “draconian” Act.

    “The Federal Government will have to look at the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act and the implications it has now for any activist who wants to take part in non-violent civil disobedience at Pine Gap,” she said.

    Ms Mulhearn said they were shocked to win the case, and thanked retired Federal Court judge Ron Merkel QC for acting for her and Ms Goldie.

    She hoped the decision would give others the “courage” to “expose” Pine Gap.

    The group, who still carry convictions under the Criminal Code for the break-in, have all served jail terms after failing to pay their fines.

    It is not yet known if they will seek compensation for the time served.

    Sunday Teritorian Link
    http://www.ntnews. 2008/02/23/ 3433_ntnews. html

    Other Post Aquittal Updates

    Background on Pine Gap Action

    1. Tougher protest laws for spy base says:

      22/02/2009 9:44:00 AM

      THE Federal Labor Government is set to strengthen a ”draconian” 1952 law that protects the top secret Pine Gap spy base that has been the target of peace protesters.

      Labor and Coalition members of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee have endorsed amendments to the 57-year-old Defence (Special Undertakings) Act to remove any doubt that its severe penalties for espionage or interference apply to the United States and Australia defence facility near Alice Springs.

      People who enter or photograph the base without authorisation face imprisonment for up to seven years.

      Australian Greens Senator Robert Ludlam dissented from the committee’s decision, saying that the move to strengthen the Cold War era legislation was ”a grossly disproportionate response to peaceful protest”.

      ”This facility was probably used to co-ordinate bombing raids during the illegal war on Iraq,” he said.

      ”The Government is now threatening to lock up innocent civilians who seek to peacefully protest at the site.”

      The Pine Gap facility serves as a ground station for United States signals intelligence collection satellites and has the ability to relay early warning of ballistic missile launches.

      Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has said it was necessary to strengthen the Government’s ability to prosecute anyone who broke into the base by establishing it in law as a ”special defence undertaking”.

      In February last year, four Christian anti-war protesters who broke into the Pine Gap facility had their convictions quashed.

      Jim Dowling, Donna Mulhearn, Adele Goldie and Bryan Law, members of the Christians Against All Terrorism group, used bolt cutters on a high-security fence and entered the technical support area at Pine Gap in December 2005. They were fined more than $3000 and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions appealed against what it said was the leniency of the sentence, while the defendants appealed against their convictions.

      The Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal in Darwin subsequently acquitted all four defendants, saying there had been ”a miscarriage of justice” because they had been denied a possible defence, mainly establishing that the facility was not necessary for defence purposes.

      In a submission to the Senate committee, the Defence Department asserted that ”any incursion into Pine Gap could represent a serious threat to national security”.

      Mr Dowling told the committee that ”it seems to me that the only purpose in changing the law is to punish and frighten those thinking about engaging in non-violent resistance against Pine Gap’s role in war making”.

      Peace protesters first targeted the Pine Gap facility in 1976. During the 1980s and 1990s protesters breaking into the facility were routinely charged with the minor offence of trespass.

  2. Dear friends,

    Many will know by now that the appeal By Donna and Adele against our convictions for exposing the Pine Gap terror base has been successful.
    At the same time, a humiliated DPP prosecutor withdrew his appeal to increase our penalties for our other convictions.

    In a matter of a few hours, former federal Court Judge Ron Merkle, made the Defence Special Undertakings act virtually unusable for defending Pine Gap’s war crimes.

    On Friday 22nd February, the full bench of the NT Supreme Court ruled our original trial Judge erred in not allowing us to present evidence that Pine Gap was not “necessary for the defence of Australia” as described in the act.

    It is unlikely the prosecution will want to take part in such an exercise to convict people like us again. Of course there is always the possibility of parliament changing the DSU act to solve this “problem”.

    Donna, Adele, Bryan and myself all spent time in Darwin jail for the original fines (Donna 5 days, Adele 6, Bryan10, and myself ,9 ).

    The prosecution was not the only one humbled by the appeal process.

    On the second day, Russell, the lawyer for Adele and Donna pointed out that, while I was still in the dock expecting to do 13 days, I could ask to become part of the appeal and except bail.

    I didn’t have to think too long to decide to swallow any principle, pride, or cynicism I had about the appeal It was obvious that, Donna and Adele (soon to be “we”) were going to win. Bryan made the same quick and brilliant decision, and I was released from custody. (Bryan had previously been released that day after doing his full time).

    Our victory seems to be one more miraculous outcome in an amazing process of resistance. The struggle will go on. I would like to invite anyone interested to join.

    Thanks to all those who have gorgeously supported us over the last 3 years, with prayers, financially, with accommodation, with spreading the word, song and dance, and in many, many other ways. Thanks especially to Ron Merkle and Russell Goldflam. Ron seems like a humble man who generously included us in the list of causes he has supported in his “retirement”. Russell, while working for Legal aid went above and beyond the call of duty many times I am sure.

    Thanks even more especially to Bryan Donna and Adele, who proved a small group can work through the tensions, dissentions, pretensions, of all we have been through. It has been a great journey.

    I will write a more detailed account of our time in Darwin later.

    Attached is an account form the Sunday Territorian.[Ed Note: See comment # 1 above].


  3. The first Citizen’s Inspection of the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility is finished. Finished on a high note!

    The second Citizen’s Inspection of Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility is scheduled to take place at dawn on ANZAC Day 2008. You’re all invited, in fact encouraged to come and be part of this exciting and effective example of NVDA. More later about this.

    What I’m going to do here is reflect on the lessons we’ve learned through our Pine Gap actions, and apply them to the contemporary Peace movement and prevailing conditions.

    The first lesson is the amazing success we’ve enjoyed as a small group of diverse people intervening into the growing militarism of Australia. We started as seven people in a vege oil van. We had few material resources, but we had oodles of commitment and determination, and we adopted the precepts and planning of Christian and Gandhian nonviolence.

    1/ On 9 December 2005 Jim Dowling and Adele Goldie cut their way through two “man-proof” security fences and entered the northern Technical Area. Donna Mulhearn and I were arrested an hour later cutting through the outer man-proof fence. Even though the AFP, Defence Security Authority, and ASIO knew when we’d be coming and what we’d be doing they failed to prevent entry onto their sacred ground.

    We punctured one of the biggest myths of the military state, that “our defences are invulnerable”. Piffle. Since we broke in there’s been a security review and upgrade of Pine Gap security. But, given that the failures in 2005 arose out of human error, and given the nature of the base and its surrounding terrain, I doubt the new security is any more effective than the old security – and I think we can defeat it again.

    The wider lesson is about the role of interventionary action, which carries symbolism with it, but goes well beyond. We can at any time organise a blockade and/or a trespass at the front of Pine gap for the journos and TV cameras. Indeed we did just that in October 2006 and June 2007, in conjunction with various parts of our trial. But the level of news and community interest is much lower. What captures the public imagination is cutting fences, gaining entry, doing something for real.

    Using the interventionary technique, a tiny group applied few resources. We gained results orders of magnitude greater.

    2/ When Jim and Adele got inside there was an alarm, an alert, and Pine Gap went into “lock down” for a few hours. I imagine this means doors are locked, and movement inside the base ceases until all threats have been disclosed and negated. The base might go from a green status to a pink status, and an incident report will be generated that will be seen by Australian and US higher military authorities.

    Achieving the real-time intervention invited and set the stage for “Back-fire”. Being challenged in this particular way provoked the state to a massive over-reaction as they tried really hard to punish and control us for what we did. Brian martin has written usefully about back-fire and political jiu jitsu.

    Our little group was successful in using that over-reaction to our own advantage. When the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock consented to our prosecution under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 it ensured we’d set legal precedent and generate national news.

    In our case the over-reaction provided us with legal and Court opportunities to push our key messages over and over again. Pine gap is a terror base. The Australian government is curtailing civil liberties. Resist war.

    It helped a lot that we won so many issues in the legal forums. We won bail issues twice and opened up the space to take political actions at Pine Gap in conjunction with our trials. We defied efforts by ASIO to silence us and eventually discharged Court Orders restraining us from publicising ASIO’s presence at Pine Gap. Most importantly Ron Merkel QC acted for us in relation to the DSU, and eventually had our convictions quashed and replaced with acquittals.

    3/ Ron Merkel dealt with the DSU in a way which makes it most unlikely to ever be used again in instances of nonviolent civil disobedience. Ron successfully argued that under the DSU the accused have the right to attack as matter of fact whether or not Pine Gap is necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth. It’s probable that an accused under the DSU can have discovery of relevant documents considered by the Minister for Defence at relevant times.

    Since the 1970s, when protests began against Pine Gap, the Commonwealth has been threatening us with the DSU. They can’t do that any more. I’d love to be charged under the DSU. I’d love to get the documents from 1967 when Pine gap was declared a “space research facility”. They’ll never give us access to these documents. They’ll never use the DSU again.

    They may respond in other ways (control orders?).

    4/ Personally we applied the Sermon on the Mount to everything we did. On this journey the Pine Gap 4 were together in Alice Springs, Darwin and Brisbane for three months over a 27 month period.

    During this time we, and a changing group of close-in supporters, built and reinforced within ourselves and our group the practise of loving our enemies and not squabbling with our friends. A strong part of that has been the community of prayer and hospitality at Campfire in the Heart, with David and Sue Woods at Alice Springs.

    For a two week period during our trial we created a nonviolence community of 30 through which we put into practice all the techniques of inclusive shared authority and justice that we prefigure in the world. As one on trial it was an enormous relief to know that public relations, education, action and administrative support were being looked after by skilled and enthusiastic friends.

    I have become closer to each of the four, the six, the seven, and the thirty since we began our journey – and we are all stronger better people because of it. Here I’m indebted to Sean O’Reilly who gave me unflinchingly good advice during periods of conflict within. Ciaron O’Reilly has been outstanding in his support for our group, including personal attendance at Pine Gap in October 2006.

    5/ The weird part. For me a central part of my intention during this campaign has been to serve out any period of imprisonment required with as good grace as possible. But nonetheless taking up the suffering of the penitentiary – both as self-purification and as an earnest of my good intentions to build peace at whatever personal cost.

    In the end I spent ten days in Berrimah Prison outside Darwin. I shared a Dormitory with Jim Dowling and six other men for seven of those nights. Donna and Adele did their time in the Berrimah women’s prison. We all went in together sorta and that made it all so much easier.

    That makes it a pretty short sentence for an effective action, but it’s enough to remember how shameful and ugly the prison system is. To be stripped of dignity (“squat and cough” over a mirror) and subjected to the arbitrary enforcement of regulation (“tuck your shirt in”) and the kind of bureaucracy you grow when your clients have no rights at all. My favourite is being locked own each day for 18 hours in a hot sweaty dorm, with a rank toilet, and the blare of television for twelve of those hours. Yucky Chucky.


    I ask myself is it worth it? Yes. I don’t like being in prison, but I could do it. I could do three months, six months, or a year if I had to. I don’t think I’ll get longer than a year in a hurry, but I could do that too. I could do it because I know that every day of it is worth its weight in qi for making peace in contemporary Australia and the world.

    I think that Gandhi is right, and that suffering engages the attention of human beings in a way which brings change to hearts and to consciousness.

    6/ The reality of Australian militarism is that we are binding ourselves ever more tightly to the US empire and its space-based attempt at outright global military control.

    I notice that Frank Cordaro and the Des Moines catholic worker are addressing Strat Com in the US, and we could all do worse than to connect with that campaign – which provides the context within which Pine Gap, Geraldton, NW Cape and other US bases in Australia operate.


    I’m going on to organise a second Citizen’s Inspection of Pine gap on ANZAC Day this year, and I want to extend and build on the work we’ve done so far. The others are extending their work in different directions. More soon.


  4. Dear friends

    If you were as happy about the result of our appeal as we were – you might also like to thank the person most responsible for it:

    Former Federal Court judge Ron Merkel QC.

    Ron began advocating for us back in 2006 in a bid to avoid the case going to trial. His arguments were not accepted then by Justice Sally Thomas, but on appeal were well received by the full bench of the NT Court of Criminal Appeal, hence our acquittal.

    Ron’s had a long and distinguished legal career – as an expert in administrative law he has focused on issues such as Native Title, civil rights and advocating for asylum seekers and indigenous people.

    He opposes the use of legislation and laws that curtail human rights and believed the use of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 in our case was wrong, morally and legally.

    His years of experience were obvious as he presented his case that a miscarriage of justice had occurred at our trial.

    He had three other grounds of appeal based on technicalities about ‘prohibited areas” and “special undertakings’ and in a marathon effort was able to convince the three appeal judges (under constant scrutiny) that the DSU charges be dropped and no re-trial ordered.

    The decision has major ramifications for this tired old act of Parliament which suppresses political dissent with extreme penalties.

    A new legal precedent has been set.

    It was a pleasure to see Ron at work – as the prosecution floundered, he was always in control: “never concede anything,” he whispered to us after a gruelling session of questions from the three judges, “not even the time of day”.

    He possesses a brilliant mind, an amazing capacity for detail, eloquence of speech, warm manner and a passion to see justice done.

    Many people showed solidarity to us – now we encourage you to show solidarity with another activist for justice working in a different and difficult field.

    You c send a thank you message to Ron at:

    Ron Merkel QC
    c/- Clerk G
    Owen Dixon Chambers West
    205 William St
    Melbourne 3000 VIC
    Fax: 03 92258668

    You could also pass on thanks to his junior barrister Rowena Orr who also helped us out. Russell Goldflam from Alice Springs Legal Aid was the other hero on the case.

    Many people have described our case as a David Vs Goliath win, but with Ron Merkel at the slingshot we were always bound to have an accurate shot!

    Thanks to all of you who supported us along the way, it was a wonderful journey from beginning to end.

    Let’s continue to put Pine Gap on trial – you can guarantee the DSU act won’t be used anytime soon!

    and if you get arrested and need a lawyer, I know a good one.


    PS: Pics of Ron, and the four of us with Russell and Rod attached, thanks to Katie for her photography and media help – invaluable!

    PPS: Bryan has written a thoughtful reflection about the whole ‘Pine Gap’ experience, you can read it by clicking on
    http://www.cairnspeacebypeace. org

    PPPS: Adele and I still have more to share about our experience in prison, which we will share in due course.

    PPPPS: I’m heading over to Perth tomorrow (Wed) for a week, will bring some books and CDs – Perth people please get in touch if you want some.

    PSx5: There’s still lots of media coverage about the case, mostly features now, including a documentary to come…pls let us know if you see something…

    PSx6: Sydney people – I’ll be speaking at the Palm Sunday Peace Rally, Sunday March 16, 1pm at Belmore Park. Five years too long in Iraq, defend civil liberties – come along!

    7.30pm at the Bellevue Hotel, 158 Hargrave St Paddington.

    PSx8: “An unjust law is no law at all” St Augustine

  5. “U.S. Bases, Hell why not?…”

    New Australian Labor Govt. Prepares to Sell Out on Star Wars!

    Satirical clip (very funny) on Peter Garrett former lead singer of radical rock group “Midnight Oil now Australian government minister does yet another backflip on U.S. bases, uranium etc etc

    Paul Maley | February 25, 2008
    PINE Gap may become part of a US-led strategic missile defence shield as Labor considers reversing its opposition to the controversial scheme – a move that could create tensions with China and Russia.

    In Opposition, Labor was against Australian involvement in a program to build a national missile shield protecting the US, but supported a limited theatre-based system that could be deployed in war zones.

    But Foreign Minister Stephen Smith yesterday said missile defence technology had evolved and that the Government was now giving “careful consideration” to participating in the missile shield.

    Last year, then defence minister Brendan Nelson told parliament the US-Australian defence facility at Pine Gap could form part of a missile shield by providing early warnings of ballistic missile launches.

    Any about-face on missile defence could stoke tensions within the Labor Party, with opposition to the joint facilities being an article of faith for many on the party’s Left.

    In his former incarnation as lead singer of activist rock group Midnight Oil, Environment Minister Peter Garrett was a trenchant opponent of Pine Gap.

    However, Mr Smith said yesterday: “The technology has moved on, and so what we’ve said is that in conversation with our ally, with the US, we’re happy to give consideration to the missile defence arrangements.”

    A strategic missile defence system, or strategic defence initiative, as it was originally known, was first proposed in the 1980s by then US president Ronald Reagan. The idea was shelved by president Bill Clinton, but revived by President George W.Bush.

    The system would offer protection to the US, but could in the future be extended to provide limited cover to Washington’s allies, including Australia, through the use of ship-based missiles.

    Critics say the system would spark a regional arms race and relies on uncertain technology.

    Any Australian involvement in a missile shield would generate tensions with nuclear powers China and Russia, both of which are implacably opposed to the scheme, which they fear is aimed at containing their strategic influence. But it would guarantee that Australia would continue to benefit from US intelligence and would give Australian defence contractors access to lucrative work during its development.

    Mr Smith said the Government had yet to be persuaded about the viability of a such a system, citing the unknown high cost as well as doubts over the technology.

    “We’re not rushing to embrace it, we are just giving very careful consideration to it and we’ll do that in conjunction with our US ally,” he said.

    Mr Smith said the matter had been under discussion during the weekend’s Ausmin talks with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

    He denied the two governments were locked in secret talks over the idea, but said certain aspects of the discussions had to remain confidential.

    The Rudd Government would consider the matter in a “deliberative and sober way”, but no decision was imminent.

    Participation in the scheme might prove to be in Australia’s national interest, Mr Smith said. “We don’t want to make any decisions which would deprive us of technology which might in the end be in our national security interest and be able to protect our forces in the field,” he said.

    Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Andrew Robb said Mr Smith’s remarks were inconsistent with Labor’s pre-election position on the subject. “They need to clearly explain what their position is,” he said.

    Strategic and defence expert Ross Babbage said that Mr Smith’s remarks were a case of “reality biting”.

    “Australia is already involved in a range of things related to missile defence, particularly in monitoring launches,” he said.

    Improved detection, tracking and targeting technology was rendering the distinction between theatre-based and region-based missile defence systems indivisible, Professor Babbage said.

    He said Australian co-operation in the project would come in the form of research and development as well as surveillance and technology.

    Mr Smith also expressed alarm at the trend towards trade protectionism

    Ciaron O’Reilly
    London Catholic Worker
    Landline 0207 249 0041
    From Overseas 0044 207 249 0041

    Mobile Calls & Text 0795 029 0857
    From Overseas +44 795 029 0857

    “The poor tell us who we are,
    The prophets tell us who we could be,
    So we hide the poor,
    And kill the prophets.”
    Phil Berrigan



    9th February 2009

    Jim Dowling
    Ph 07 34253003

    I am one of the four people charged under the DSU Act after entering Pine Gap in December 2005 to fulfill our stated intention of inspecting Pine Gap for Terrorist activity. We called ourselves Christians Against All Terrorism.

    We acted on the information from the top Defence analysts on Pine Gap in Australia, including Des Ball, Richard Tanter, and Phillip Dorling. All of these concluded without any doubt (despite any misinformation spread by Pine Gap spin doctors that “nobody knows”), that Pine Gap has been integral to the war in Iraq and provides large amounts of intelligence information used in waging that war, including information used in targeting decisions.

    We saw, and still do see, Pine Gap as being part of a terrorist act which has resulted in perhaps more than a million dead, four million refugees, and the terrorising of an entire nation.

    We acted openly about our intention before the event. After we were refused entry by the defence Minister and the Australian head of Pine Gap, the only thing we did not reveal was the exact time and place we would enter for the inspection.

    After successfully entering the base, we became the first people ever to be charged under the DSU Act, though we were not the first people to enter the prohibited area and be charged for it.

    Others were always charged under the Crimes Act (as we also were – as well as the DSU Act).

    You are probably already aware that the DSU Act was enacted in 1952, at the height of the cold war to protect British Nuclear Testing on Monte Bello and later Womera. At the time, the main fear was supposedly Russian agents.

    The Act was never intended to punish or threaten non-violent protesters.

    The tenacity with which the DPP pursued the goal of sending four nonviolent Christian activists to jail, using this Act, surprised us all.

    We were left with little doubt that there was much pressure from the US partners of Pine Gap to do so. I do not believe this belief is in any way conspiratorial.

    Despite winning the first Supreme court trial against us, the DPP launched an appeal against Judge Sally Thomas’ decision not to send us to jail. Instead of jail, Judge Thomas had given us fines totaling thousands of dollars.

    As you may be aware, as the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed our convictions and ordered that acquittals be entered, we not only won the appeal against an increase in penalty, but the full Bench of the NT Supreme court ruled that Judge Thomas erred in not requiring the prosecution to prove that Pine Gap was necessary for the Defence of Australia.
    (It was our intention in the initial trial to prove that Pine Gap was not being used in the Defence of Australia, but in fact was being used to wage a war of aggression in Iraq – a war declared illegal by Kofi Anan, and unjust by nearly every moral theologian in the world not directly connected to the invading governments)

    Consequently our convictions under the DSU Act were all overturned.

    At this point it became extremely embarrassing to watch prosecutor Paul Usher humiliated as he insisted on requesting a retrial. The Judges had already sneered at the possibility and quickly denied his request. He had obviously been instructed to pursue every avenue of punishment to the bitter end.

    A little less than a year later, we now have the law being changed to circumvent the ruling of the full bench of the Supreme Court. If you follow the Darwin Appeal hearing, you will find that the Judges agreed that, not only did the Defence Special Undertakings Act require that it be proven that Pine Gap was necessary for the defence of Australia, for the Act to be used , but that this was the intention of the legislators at the time.

    So, now we have a situation where the present Government is not only trying to change this Act to use it for something which it was never intended, i.e. the prosecution of non-violent peace activists, but they are also trying to change an important part of the act which might have been a safeguard against abuse.

    It seems to me that the only purpose in changing this law is to punish and frighten those thinking about engaging in non-violent resistance against pine Gap’s role in war making.

    Martin Luther King was trespassing when he sat in at lunch counters and segregated schools. So was Ghandi when he marched on the Salt Mine. Similarly were the Russian people when they occupied the Russian Parliament during the collapse of communism. No doubt all the governments involved had trespass laws, and other laws, to prosecute these people under.

    AND SO DOES AUSTRALIA. We were charged with trespass under the Crimes Act. We were also charged with damaging property under the Crimes Act ( for cutting two perimeter fences to gain entry). In fact the “Destruction of Property” charge carried a maximum penalty of 12 years jail!

    If any person were thinking of sabotage or violence there are charges carrying penalties of up to life in prison under the terrorism Acts or the Crimes Act. Obviously the changes to the Defence Special Undertakings Act are not needed or intended to prosecute serious crimes like these.

    I would encourage you to refuse to cooperate with this attempt to more harshly punish acts of nonviolent dissent.

    If you think we should have got 7 years jail just for trespassing onto Pine Gap land, then by all means recommend the changes in this act be passed.

    To perhaps help you think about that last question, I include a paper written By Fr Bruce Duncan, head of Yarra Theological Union Social Justice Department. In it he addresses our actions and the question of what a legitimate government should be doing about them. (Other than changing the DSU act).

    Jim Dowling


    Taking seriously their convictions to oppose unjust violence and war, a small group of people continue to employ non-violent methods to oppose Australia’s involvement with arms manufacturers and organisations involved with the Iraq war.

    The group, ‘Christians Against ALL Terrorism’, this year have staged a number of protests outside Raytheon offices in Brisbane, with prayer vigils, exorcisms and splashing of blood.

    As well as managing Pine Gap, which is involved with US military communications and targeting over Iraq, Raytheon manufactures electronic war fighting equipment and missiles, including cruise missiles and cluster bombs.

    Cluster bombs had released 800,000 bomblets over Iraq.

    After a third protest on 29 May 2008, Jim Dowling and Lisa Bridle were charged with disobeying a police directive and wilful damage.

    But a Wynnum magistrate on 25 July found them not guilty of disobeying the police, and Raytheon withdrew the charge of wilful damage.

    Their protests are part of a determined campaign to use non-violent methods to challenge Australia’s involvement with unjust war-making policies and arms manufacturers.

    But the Howard government found it difficult to win convictions against the non-violent protestors.

    Faced with a possible gaol sentence of seven years, four Christian peace activists found guilty of entering the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility in December 2005 were on 15 June 2007 given modest fines by Justice Sally Thomas.

    Apparently determined to make an example of the protestors, the Howard government’s legal team of nine silks and lawyers in the Northern Territory Supreme Court in Alice Springs was pressing for prison terms, but the judge considered this excessive and unwarranted.

    The defendants were the first ever to be charged under the 1952 Defence (Special Undertakings) Act.

    The four activists, Donna Mulhearn, Jim Dowling, Adele Goldie and Bryan Law, were convinced that they could not in conscience remain silent in the face of the deceit about the war in Iraq and Australia’s role in the bungled occupation.

    They were not alone in believing the war unjust.

    Along with many other leading Australians, key custodians of the just war tradition, the churches declared the war unjust from the first.

    Pope John Paul II led strenuous efforts to avoid war.

    On 13 January 2003, he insisted forcefully that an invasion of Iraq did not meet the stringent just war criteria.

    ‘I say NO TO WAR! War is not always inevitable.

    It is always a defeat for humanity’.

    The Vatican’s observer at the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, unambiguously reiterated to the UN Security Council on 20 February 2003 that ‘The Holy See is convinced that to resort to force would not be… just.

    ’ Even the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the United States on 13 November 2002 had challenged the Bush Administration’s rationale for war, declaring that without definite evidence of Iraq’s involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or of a serious and imminent threat from Iraq, war would not be justified.

    2 Catholic bishops’ conferences from around the world, including that of Australia, England and Wales, Germany, France, Canada and Italy, firmly endorsed John Paul’s views in an unprecedented flood of statements opposing the invasion of Iraq.

    Yet for the first time in the history of the western democracies, the United States, Britain and Australia invaded a country in defiance of the moral authority of the just war tradition, especially the Catholic and other mainstream churches.

    Benedict supports non-violent opposition to war Pope Benedict XVI followed closely the thinking of John Paul II in opposing the war.

    Benedict has also strongly endorsed non-violent means to protest unjust war.

    On 30 May 2007 he insisted that ‘the moral implication’ of loving one’s enemies is that it ‘proposes “nonviolence” as the law of life.

    ’ On 18 February he had said that ‘nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behaviour’ but the attitude of one who ‘is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone… even at the cost of life.

    ’ The action of the protesters at Pine Gap reflects the Pope’s call to active non-violence.

    Indeed Benedict in early June 2007 recognised as a martyr Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian who refused to be conscripted into the German army because of his Christian belief that Hitler’s wars were unjust.

    In effect the Pope has held up Jägerstätter as an example of the duty of Christians to defy governments undertaking unjust wars.

    It is extremely curious that the Howard government was pressing to imprison the four protesters at Pine Gap, while those who encouraged the invasion of Iraq and committed Australian forces to fight, falsely claiming to have indisputable evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, face no sanction at all.

    The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, on 24 February 2003 declared that war would be a ‘crime against peace’.

    Yet it appears to be a crime, a war crime, for which no one in Australia is to be held responsible.

    Is it of no consequence that the Howard government misleadingly plunged us into a bloody and protracted war in clear violation of the just war moral criteria? Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or injured, and thousands of western troops as well.

    Some millions of people have fled Iraq – many to Australia – or been internally displaced.

    The cost of the war and its flow-on effects has blown out astronomically, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and could reach as much as US$3 trillion.

    And instead of bringing al-Qaeda to justice, the world now faces a religiously-based conflict that could last decades, raising real fears that such groups could even explode nuclear weapons in major western cities.

    Rivers of blood have been shed, but the Howard government dismissed this whole fiasco as if it were an honest mistake.

    The people responsible for Australia’s involvement in the carnage have offered no apology and shown no remorse or regret.

    Who should face trial: those who protest non-violently against the deception that led Australia into an unjust war; or those who so misleadingly unleashed the ‘dogs of war’ in Iraq? Dr Bruce Duncan coordinates the program of social justice studies at Yarra Theological Union in Melbourne.

    He is the author of War on Iraq: is it just? (Sydney: Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, 2003).

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