Margaret’s Trial

Margaret Pestorius, 47 of Cairns is on trial next Tuesday 12 June 2012, at Rockhampton Magistrates Court.


A US Amphibious Assault Vehicle inside the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area 20 July 2011


For “Possessing a Camera, with intent” in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.

The ADF has abused a counter espionage law,

using it as a weapon against political dissent. 


How does this photo get to be a criminal offence?


Margaret has been charged under Section 82 (2) of the Defence Act 1903, which says


(a)  a person enters or approaches any defence installation with sketching, drawing, photographing, or painting materials or apparatus in his or her possession; and

(b)  the person has no lawful authority for that conduct; and

(c)  the person intends to contravene subsection (1);  (make a sketch, drawing etc)


(d)  the person is guilty of an offence; and

(e)  all tools and all materials or apparatus for sketching, drawing, photographing or painting found in his or her possession are forfeited and may be destroyed, sold, or otherwise disposed of, as the Governor-General directs.

(2A)  The maximum penalty for an offence under subsection (2) is a fine of $100.”


Margaret Pestorius is preparing to defend herself in court next Tuesday against this bogus charge, laid by Queensland Police upon complaint from the ADF (via the District Intelligence Office of Rockhampton Police).

She is responding with courage to a vicious act of harassment.

The 3 Jaegerstaetter Amigos outside Rockhampton Magistrates Court on 21 July 2011.


By charging her 6 months after the event…

by insisting on a trial in Rockhampton…

and by calling witnesses from around Australia…

Queensland Police have colluded with the ADF to inflict substantial cost and risk on Margaret.  The maximum fine for the offence is $100.  The cost of the trial is somewhere around $10,000.  The prosecution has said they will seek these costs from Margaret.

Margaret has the courage of her convictions.  She intends pleading NOT GUILTY, and putting the Crown to proof.  She has several compelling grounds for acquittal.

To illustrate the absurdity of this prosecution I’ve prepared an A3 poster titled “Spot the Difference”.

The poster shows four photos taken during an Exercise Talisman Sabre, two of which ARE subject to the criminal charge… and two of which ARE NOT.  Viewers are encouraged to “Spot the Difference”.

Spot the Difference


WARNING: It’s harder than you think.  (attached)

Under s82(2) of the Defence Act it’s a criminal offence to photograph a military aircraft, yet you will see a photo of an ADF “Tiger” helicopter at Rockhampton airport, taken without authority by Chris Ison, chief photographer of the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.  The photo was published widely.  It was on the front page of the daily newspaper on the very same day the District Intelligence Office of the Rockhampton Police decided to investigate Margaret’s camera.  Yet Chris Ison has never been investigated or charged for taking the very same kind of photo.

If you go to you’ll see a whole bunch of very detailed pics of military aircraft, all credited to amateur aircraft enthusiasts.  This mob have never been investigated or charged either.  At CQ Planespotting they re-use the Bulletin pic, as well as illegal photos of their own on the masthead.

 How does a photo get to be a criminal offence?

Beyond that issue, Margaret will be arguing that she had completely different reasons for possessing that camera.

Reasons to do with the practice of nonviolence in an interventionary campaign.  To establish the basis of the Shoalwater Wilderness Pilgrimage, the basis on which the shrine to Franz Jaegerstaetter was built, and the importance of publicity in nonviolence campaigning, Bryan Law will be giving evidence.  (It’s his camera after all, and the shrine was his idea).



2 thoughts on “Margaret’s Trial”

  1. Its a sad state of affairs when the state needs to defend itself with such absurdity. I like your approach to this- obvious so as child could understand the logic. They make a mockery of the charge and the law they are ‘upholding’, by exposing their parochialism, to an obviously non existent threat. Peace.

  2. Hi, the photos taken and published on the CQ Plane Spotting website are not illegal in any way as they are taken at a civilian airport from behind the airport fenceline. If this was to be a military airport (or any military installation for that matter) then taking photos would either inside or even outside the fenceline be illegal – as has been alleged in the charges being faced. Aircraft enthusiasts and plane spotters are very careful in this regard and adhere to all requests and requirements of the Federal Police, Military Police and the Queensland Police Force. Enthusiasts were often stopped and questioned during the Exercise while taking photos at Rocky Airport, and on each occassion, we were assured that our activities – from behind the airport fencelines – were indeed fully legal. Thanks!

Comments are closed.