Climate activists who admitted to offending during various protests earlier this month said they did so after exhausting legal avenues to avert the "already looming" threat of climate change that if not addressed would "kill the future of our children".
Andrew Paul George, Mark Michael Conroy, John Max Wurcker and Ross Warren Brown fronted the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday when they pleaded guilty to damaging Commonwealth property arising from protests between August 4 and 10.
The court heard the four men sprayed red paint in the Department of Agriculture building on August 6 with George and Brown also dousing tomato sauce over them. Wurcker glued his right hand to the reception.
Four days later, George, Conroy and Wurcker sprayed red paint in the form of climate emergency slogans on the walls at The Lodge while Brown was able to spray only "Duty of" at Parliament House's Great Verandah before being arrested.
Conroy also admitted to unreasonable obstruction of traffic. During another protest along Kings Avenue Bridge, he stepped onto the road and shouted into a megaphone during peak-hour traffic.
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George, in his early 30s, said he had spent at least 10 years trying to get "those in power to act according to science and morality", including via petitions and dressing up in "polar bear outfits at the local shops".
"They have failed ... no significant policy or societal action towards what was already looming as a huge threat. This is an existential threat," he said.
"That's why I took part in these acts of civil disobedience."
George, whose background is mechanical engineering, said the minor damaged he caused were "absolutely nothing" compared to the government's inaction on climate change.
"The real vandalism is being caused by this government for not acting according to the science. They're corrupt and cowardly and they ought to be the ones on trial," he said.
Brown, who also said he had tried legal means in the past including petitions, told the court he regretted causing more work for cleaners at Parliament House but felt "this was an important and justified action to take".
"Putting more and more emissions into the air can't be allowed to continue," he said.
"It will kill many children in the future."
Three of the four defendants tendered a statement that quoted Justice Mordecai Bromberg, who found that Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley had a duty of care to protect children from future personal injury caused by climate change.
Magistrate Peter Morrison convicted all four defendants and fined $20 for each offence with two months to pay.
In his remarks to all, Mr Morrison said he preferred to convict them and impose no further penalties but the sentencing proceedings under Commonwealth legislation did not allow him to do so.
He said he acknowledged the defendants' motivation and principles but "those political views don't mean that no offence has been committed".
In his sentencing, Mr Morrison also considered the defendants' time in custody of between two and eight days while they waited for their court matters to proceed.
Fellow protester Deanna "Violet" Maree Coco also appeared briefly via phone for trespass and unreasonable obstruction charges. She will front court again on September 2.
The quintet's appearance came after three fellow Extinction Rebellion members had non-convictions recorded on Tuesday.
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