Council’s plan to shut down protesters

 

QUEENSLAND'S biggest council wants more powers to crack down on protesters in a bid to stop "extremists" shutting down Brisbane streets.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asking for mandated mediation sessions between councils and protest groups to be scrapped.

Under current laws, councils must hold and complete a mediation process with groups before applying to the courts to stop their protests going ahead.

In a letter sent to the Premier last week, Cr Schrinner said he wanted the law changes to stop the tactics being used by "extremists" to shut down the city's roads and public transport infrastructure.

He also pointed out that the mediation processes were sometimes being held up by lengthy wait times.

Shades of Sir Joh: Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has asked the State Government to scrap the mediation process for protesters. Picture: Annette Dew
Shades of Sir Joh: Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has asked the State Government to scrap the mediation process for protesters. Picture: Annette Dew

"It is my firm view that it is only a matter of time before these tactics create further unnecessary delays to emergency services resulting in an otherwise potentially avoidable death," he wrote.

"While I support the democratic right for people to have their say, extremists holding the public to ransom is not the way to do it.

"I am also of the firm view that a strong majority of Brisbane residents do not tolerate these ongoing tactics."

In his letter, the Lord Mayor also welcomed new laws announced last week by the State in response to Extinction Rebellion activists blocking the city's streets. The same cannot be said internally for the Labor Party, however, with the powerful Left Faction using the weekend's ALP conference to condemn the move.

An Extinction Rebellion protester who abseiled off the William Jolly Bridge in Brisbane on Monday, August 19.
An Extinction Rebellion protester who abseiled off the William Jolly Bridge in Brisbane on Monday, August 19.

They warned the laws - which ban "dangerous" devices - could impact Labor's proud history of protesting as they moved a motion against the legislation.

Cr Schrinner said the Government should include in its legislative changes the removal of the mediation process with protest groups, which are required when groups give the council at least five days notice before they hold a protest.

"I've been advised that in most circumstances, these prescribed requirements cannot be met due to lengthy waiting periods for access to Dispute Resolution Centres," Cr Schrinner wrote in his letter.

"These waiting periods are not within Council's control."

The council cannot apply to the courts to stop the protest if the mediation process has not been finished.

A spokesman for the Premier yesterday said Ms Palaszczuk and the Lord Mayor met before yesterday's Bridge to Brisbane and Cr Schrinner did not raise the issue.