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Magistrate dismisses harsh bail conditions imposed on Reserve Bank protestor Cherish Kuehlmann

Magistrate Clare Farnan said that it was Kuehlman’s “democratic right” to attend protests while charges against her are being resolved.

A magistrate at Downing Centre Local Court, Clare Farnan, has dismissed the bail conditions imposed by police on UNSW Education Officer Cherish Kuehlmann after she allegedly trespassed at a Reserve Bank protest.

Farnan noted the right of the community, and by extension the student protestors, to protest, questioning the motives of NSW police in imposing such strict restrictions. “The police want me to maintain a 2km radius from Town Hall in case she attends a protest? There are lawful protests that members of the community are lawfully entitled to attend,” said Farnan.

On 17 February, Kuehlmann was arrested for “aggravated trespass” for their involvement in the protest. She was arrested at 12am and taken into custody until 4am. This charge, under section 4B of the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 (NSW), carries a maximum fine of $5500.

NSW Police placed Kuehlmann under strict bail conditions for the alleged offence, including restricting her from entering a 2km radius around Sydney Town Hall. 

Today, Kuehlmann successfully argued her case and the Court rejected imposing bail on her altogether. Farnan told the court she “didn’t understand” why Kuehlmann was put on bail. She cited Kuehlmann’s “unblemished” record having no prior convictions, and said bail conditions are only imposed for fine-only offences in “rare” circumstances.

“The police want me to maintain bail conditions of a 2km city radius so she can’t attend protests,” said Farnan. 

The police prosecutor argued that removing bail restrictions “will permit [Kuehlmann] to attend rallies. The incident was an unlawful protest.”

“She does not respect private property,” he said. 

Farnan dismissed this claim, saying that it was Kuehlmann’s “democratic right” to attend. “What she chooses to do surely is up to her,” said Farnan.

Kuehlmann’s lawyer, Sidnie Sarang, noted that Kuehlmann was unable to attend or speak at the snap rally for housing justice on Friday 24 February, due to the restrictions. “The purpose of bail conditions isn’t to prevent one from attending a protest, it’s to prevent a bail concern,” she said.

Sarang also cited the impact that they had on Kuehlmann’s livelihood and her ability to participate in her student union activities. 

“Part of her job description is to liaise with different stakeholders and organise protests and rallies, and represent the interests of students,” said Sarang.

Kuehlmann is pleading not guilty to her charges and the hearing is scheduled for 25 October.

Cherish Kuehlmann has been approached for comment.