How a handful of greying, greenie grannies became enemies of the state

Forget the Capitol riots in Washington, Queensland’s house of the people has been terrorised by a band of grey-haired rebels with a cause, writes Madonna King

Feb 02, 2023, updated Feb 02, 2023
The marauding mature-aged protestors about to bring their reign of terror to Queensland Parliament. (Image Dan Peled, AAP)

The marauding mature-aged protestors about to bring their reign of terror to Queensland Parliament. (Image Dan Peled, AAP)

Recently, in Brisbane, a heinous, unthinkable crime was committed.

This one didn’t involve the body of a kind, loving woman found stuffed in the boot of a car.

Nor did it relate to the callous sidewalk murder of another; a knife allegedly slicing their torso.

It wasn’t an armed robbery, where victims will fear walking through the front door of a shop for years. Or the assault on a young child, behind the front door of her suburban home. Or even a hit-and-run that has broken a family’s heart.

In this crime, which has now seen 14 alleged perpetrators hauled before the court, banners were held up in front of politicians, reminding them of their job.

Politicians and police believe the culprits to be so dangerous that they have enacted a never-before-used law to bring them to justice.

And that is with good reason. This group, in broad daylight, were allegedly carrying concealed posters. And they wielded them, in front of our elected representatives in the sacred place where MPs are free to defame, eat taxpayer-funded food and accuse their parliamentary peers of anything, without retribution.

This was not a youth crime, and that’s perhaps why the full weight of the law is being directed at this group, where ages range up to 82 – with several in their 60s and 70s. Their ages might mean they remember a time where this same government – Labor but with another leader – changed the Bjelke-Petersen laws to legalise protests in Queensland.

The group face charges of disturbing the legislature, which in non-legal terms means they unfolded a banner imprinted with disgusting slogans we should never see in a Parliament House that represents the people of Queensland. Signs with slogans that read: “Stop Gas’’ and “Stop Coal’’.

Thank goodness for the publicly-funded security, who were able to disarm the protesters, and confiscate their paper weapons. No-one was hurt, and it is understood no property was damaged either.

But the impact this had on our State MPs has, no doubt, been considerable. One can imagine the effect on politicians having to strain their necks, up to the gallery, to see what real people were saying. Or to stop shouting obscenities at MPs on the other side, for a moment, to listen to someone else.

It is understandable that the law, under which these alleged menaces have been charged, carries a three year jail term.

Unkindly labelled the Green Grannies, they boldly addressed the media after their court appearance.

Two of the alleged ratbags – although it is unknown whether they are the ringleaders – include retired anaesthetist Dr Lee Coaldrake and former state epidemiologist Dr John Sheridan.

Between them, this motley pair have decades of health service under their belt. And while the long careers and volunteer contribution of the rest of the group has not been disclosed, Dr Coaldrake told reporters that they agreed on the science behind climate change.

Perhaps that sort of groupthink should be outlawed too.

“We are terrified about what the future holds for our children and grandchildren; your children and grandchildren,’’ Dr Coaldrake said.

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Let’s just pause the satire there, because this case is as preposterous as it is comedic.

The details will be judged in court – but isn’t this a government that claims to support the right of voter to be heard?

And isn’t this a government that prides itself on supporting strong female leadership?

And yet it supports this charge being slapped on a group of educated senior women who felt compelled to take their message direct to parliament.

This is a government that flips and flops around youth crime – but sees this as a serious assault on its workplace.

Perhaps we are ageist as well as sexist; that deep down, we think this group should be spending less time in Question Time and more time practising their line dancing or playing bingo.

Might this be a new way of political expression that doesn’t involve joining a political party; a disruption, so lacking in violence, that sunscreen wasn’t even required?

No doubt their story will unfold at their next court appearance.

And that’s where we might learn that they grew tired of knocking on the front door of politicians’ offices, and having no-one answer.

Or that they fear that climate change is just like every other – youth crime and recycled water – buried in the ‘too hard’ basket.

That would bring so many more into this gang of protestors. And that’s perhaps what the Government fears.

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