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Lee Coaldrake was 18 when she joined protests in Brisbane against South Africa’s rugby tour of Australia in 1971.

She later became an anaesthetist, got married, had two daughters and then seven grandchildren – and didn’t participate in another demonstration for nearly 50 years.

But, this week, Coaldrake was one of six women and three men – aged between 53 and 81 – to be the first people charged for disrupting Queensland parliament for more than 30 years, harking back to an era when the sunshine state was led by the notoriously repressive premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

“It was really difficult telling my family,” the 69-year-old says from her home in the well-heeled suburb of Teneriffe on Thursday, moments before taking herself to the police station to be fingerprinted and photographed.

“My eldest daughter only found out yesterday that, in fact, I was facing criminal charges. I haven’t told my youngest daughter yet. My family gets anxious … it’s a very foreign area for us to be in.”

The Queensland arrests mark the latest flashpoint in a string of high-profile…



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