Major security for Perth climate protests

Extinction Rebellion marched through the CBD on October 11. Picture: Jon Bassett
Extinction Rebellion marched through the CBD on October 11. Picture: Jon Bassett

CLIMATE activists are planning to blockade a major resources conference in Perth, prompting police to deploy security typically reserved for heads of state.

Environmental groups including Extinction Rebellion are promising a significant presence at Perth Convention Centre on Wednesday, where attendees will include the chief executives of BHP, Woodside Energy and Chevron Australia.

WA Police Commander Tony Flack told 6PR radio the force would deploy the biggest security operation seen in Perth since dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2011.

“It’s as secure as CHOGM,” he said.

“Some of the biggest resource companies in the world are attending this … they’re heavy-hitters but there will be protections put in place.”

About a dozen groups, including School Strike 4 Climate, are expected to protest at the conference and join a march from Forrest Place in the city.

Both police and activists say they’re hoping to avoid a repeat of the violent scenes at demonstrations in Melbourne last month.

Cmdr Flack said in addition to about 700 delegates, “thousands” of school children and members of the public were expected to attend a technology showcase at the conference.

He said police had been frustrated by the climate groups refusing to discuss their plans, a claim flatly rejected by organisers.

“I was surprised by the comments from the police chief this morning,” Extinction Rebellion spokesman Jessie Noakes told AAP.

“There were meetings between police and organisers last week. There was contact since then as well. I think we’ve been transparent in explaining what’s planned.

“Obviously there are unpredictable elements because how things unfold depends just as much on the police response as it does on the response from protesters.”

Mr Noakes said Extinction Rebellion couldn’t be held responsible for all protesters but his own group had a firm commitment to non-violence.

“Our track record is unimpeachable,” he said.

Cmdr Flack said police had planned extensively to avoid physical confrontations.

“(But) if they should assault, threaten, interfere with the free passage of (people) then of course police are going to have to exercise an authority which includes the use of force and some crowd tactics and public order tactics to deal with it,” he said.