Emma Heyink and Tom Power: Teen climate activists threaten to sue Premier Roger Cook for defamation

Aaron BunchAAP
Tom Power and Emma Heyink.
Camera IconTom Power and Emma Heyink. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

Climate activists are demanding that Premier Roger Cook publicly say sorry for statements about two teenagers involved in an anti-Woodside Energy protest.

It is the latest flash point in a high-profile ideological battle over fossil fuel emissions pitting the Disrupt Burrup Hub campaign against the gas company and the State Government.

The activist group issued a concerns notice letter to Mr Cook over his comments to media last Friday after the protest at the Woodside annual general meeting.

During the meeting, teenagers Emma Heyink and Tom Power stood up and called out Woodside chairman Richard Goyder and chief executive Meg O’Neil’s children’s names as they asked about their futures amid climate change.

“By the time (children’s name) and I are 70 (Woodside’s) Burrup Hub will still be producing over six billion tonnes of carbon into our atmosphere,” Emma said.

Anti-Woodisde rally
Camera IconProtesters rally outside the annual general meeting of Woodside Energy in Perth. (Aaron Bunch/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Mr Cook was scathing of the pair’s behaviour and told reporters the actions of the 17-year-olds was intimidating and threatening and should be taken seriously by police.

Lawyers for the teens allege Mr Cook’s comments defamed them and were indefensible and damaging.

“This has caused them considerable hurt, distress and anxiety,” the letter seen by AAP said.

It also threatened legal action and noted the damages bill could exceed $459,000.

Mr Cook was asked to publicly apologise to the duo and undertake to refrain from further comments and pay $1 for their legal costs by Tuesday.

Mr Cook declined to do so.

“I’ll always support people’s right to peaceful protest, but it’s never okay to bring somebody’s kids into it - regardless of the cause,” he said in a statement.

“I’m not going to spend any more time responding to this.”

It is the latest salvo in a long-running battle over Woodside’s multi-billion Burrup Hub gas project in WA’s northwest.

The activists last June released a foul-smelling substance to simulate a gas leak at the company’s Perth headquarters, forcing about 2000 staff to be evacuated.

They also spray-painted a Woodside Energy logo onto Fredrick McCubbin’s painting Down On His Luck at the Art Gallery of WA, and on the front doors of WA parliament building.

Mr Cook was critical of the group for attempting to target Ms O’Neil’s family home with paint last August during a protest action that was stopped by counter-terrorism police.

Tom Power and Emma Heyink.
Camera IconTom Power and Emma Heyink. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

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