In mine picket dispute, judge quashes lower court decision

The latest dispute in the coal miners' picket went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The latest dispute in the coal miners' picket went all the way to the Supreme Court. John Weekes

A TWO-minute hearing into the long-running Oaky North picket left a coal mine company fuming.

As a result on Tuesday, Brisbane Supreme Court quashed a lower court decision about the dispute that relates to whether and how workers can protest near an Oaky Creek mine in Central Queensland.

Justice David Jackson quashed a magistrates court order made in Rockhampton, but rejected some of Oaky's claims.

The judge also declared that the mine workers' gathering since August 13 was indeed authorised.

The picketing Oaky North miners will now have to take their case to Emerald Magistrates Court.

That is because a Central Highlands Regional Council request to refuse the assembly was still unresolved.

Previously, the CFMEU applied for a 24/7 public assembly until Christmas.

The regional council initially refused and it went to court in Emerald, but the hearing was moved to Rockhampton for reasons "not entirely clear,” Justice Jackson said.

The council and the union then agreed on conditions for the public assembly.

Rockhampton Magistrates Court made the agreed orders after a two-minute hearing.

But Oaky was not at the hearing, despite telling the court it wanted to take part.

The CFMEU said if Oaky asked to be heard on the assembly application "the court would not and should not have granted them a hearing”.

Besides, even if Oaky had been heard, the court would have "inevitably” let the protest go ahead, the union said.

Oaky argued the magistrates court was not allowed to make an order specifying conditions for an assembly to be held for longer than a day.

The mining firm asked for the Supreme Court to quash the order.

The union conceded that Oaky had the right to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Oaky raised various arguments about how peaceful assembly laws should relate to the protest.

It argued that "a month or months-long around the clock assembly is no assembly at all,” Justice Jackson added.

Since August 13, the Oaky North protesters have gathered in designated spots on a mine access road about 17km from Tieri.

Justice Jackson said protesters aimed to pressure Oaky and non-union workers as an "underlying dispute” lingered over bargaining.


Topics:  brisbane supreme court cfmeu coal mining emerald employment bargaining justice david jackson miners oaky creek peaceful assembly rockhampton unions

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