Roe 8 issues continue to bubble despite end to project

Ilona McGavock, Mal Christison, Beeliar Legal Support spokeswoman Nicola Paris, Kim Dravnieks and Christine Duckham with the report into the policing of Roe 8 protesters.
Ilona McGavock, Mal Christison, Beeliar Legal Support spokeswoman Nicola Paris, Kim Dravnieks and Christine Duckham with the report into the policing of Roe 8 protesters.

WORK has stopped and funding is set to be re-directed but the divisive Roe 8 road project continues to bubble beneath the surface with a rally planned at Parliament House, a phone poll proposed and calls for an investigation into the treatment of protesters by police.

‘Pro Roe 8’ convenor and Cockburn councillor Steve Portelli said his team was planning to greet politicians returning to Parliament on Thursday with a petition signed by 8000 people keen to see the extension of Roe Highway to Stock Road built.

To help him hammer home that point, he plans to have 20 trucks cram the carpark in the same manner as Perth taxi drivers in 2015 when they protested against Uber.

Cr Portelli said he would back that up at an ordinary council meeting on Thursday night, where he plans to present the City of Cockburn with the same petition and call for a phone poll of 3000 residents to determine their views on Roe 8.

The idea for the poll was pitched last year but voted down following an alternative recommendation put forward by Cr Portelli.

At the time, he said the proposed question had been worded to elicit a response against Roe 8 and the overall Perth Freight Link project.

“At the time contracts had been awarded, so the discussion was moot,” he said.

“Now the project has been canned, it’s time to consult the people.”

Rethink the Link convenor Kim Dravnieks said there was no evidence Roe 8 was the best way forward.

“There was never any business case for Roe 8 or the Perth Freight Link,” she said.

“For nearly $2 billion (of tax dollars) to be spent on a road without a business case would have been lunacy.

“We know congestion is not fixed by building new roads.”

Meanwhile a legal support team has called for an “urgent, independent investigation” into complaints put forward in a report about the policing of Roe 8 protesters between December and March.

The Beeliar Legal Support team said more than 200 people took part in a survey, generating “a litany of complaints against police”.

Among them were reports of people being strip-searched, trampled by horses and protesters being threatened with tasers.

Lawyer Peter Rattigan said many in the community had lost confidence in police.

Premier Mark McGowan said those with complaints should direct them to the relevant bodies and the tense situation between police and protesters had been created by the Barnett Government.

“Everyone knew this was a very divisive and highly charged issue,” he said.

“When the former government decided to go ahead and clear that land, against some of the advice they received, they set themselves up for this.

“If there are any complaints by people they should hold the Liberals and Nationals accountable for that.”

A WA Police spokesman said there would be no new investigation into the operation.

“The Corruption and Crime Commission has oversight of our complaints process, so the Commissioner has no concerns that there are any outstanding matters,” he said.

“WA Police conducted a protracted operation to maintain public order at the site and while thousands of demonstrators protested peaceably, others engaged in acts of violence and disorder.”

More than 223 people were charged during the operation, with 192 pleading guilty or being found guilty at trial.

Twenty-five arrests and five summons matters are yet to be finalised, according to WA Police.

One person failed to appear in court and a warrant has been issued for their arrest.

During the stare-down between protesters and the former State Government, protesters locked themselves to machinery and others even camped out in trees in a bid to have work stopped.

There were reports police horse Matilda suffered a minor leg injury after striking a wire cable that had been deliberately placed around trees inside a Progress Drive work site, while former premier Colin Barnett said some contractors had people defecating in their vehicles.

WA Police Union president George Tilbury said police do a “difficult and dangerous job often in dynamic situations”.

“We will always support them when they act in good faith while carrying out their lawful duties,” he said.