Peaceful climate protests at WA conference

Activists from School Strike 4 Climate and Extinction Rebellion hold placards during a protest outside the Resources Technology Showcase 2019 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre in Perth, Wednesday, November 27, 2019. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
Activists from School Strike 4 Climate and Extinction Rebellion hold placards during a protest outside the Resources Technology Showcase 2019 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre in Perth, Wednesday, November 27, 2019. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

POLICE say climate activists at a major resources conference in Perth have been well-behaved with no arrests or major incidents reported.

About 400 demonstrators gathered outside Perth Convention Centre on Wednesday morning, where attendees at the Resources Technology Showcase included senior executives from BHP, Woodside Energy and Chevron Australia.

Activists had vowed to “blockade” the conference, but delegates and members of the public were not impeded from entering and there was no sign of conflict with a police force of close to 100 including nine mounted officers.

Protesters from groups including Extinction Rebellion and School Strike 4 Climate then marched through the city to Parliament House.

WA Police said there were no move on notices issued to protesters.

“WA Police Force would like to encourage organisers of similar events to engage and cooperate with police to ensure the protest activity is conducted safely and lawfully,” WA Police said in a statement.

We would also like to remind members of the community that they have a right to voice their concerns through protest activity, as long as that activity is conducted lawfully.

“The protest activity today was conducted in a safe and lawful manner and we thank the groups for their professionalism.”

Activists at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre today. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

WA police had promised to deploy the biggest security operation seen in Perth since dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2011.

But the police presence at the main protest area was initially about two dozen officers, with numbers growing when another large group of activists arrived at the convention centre from Forrest Place in the city.

Protester Richard Birchall from Socialist Alternative said WA needed to transition from a reliance on oil and gas to renewable energy.

“I don’t accept any argument that there’s a counter-position between the interests of the workers in that industry and the future of the planet,” he said.

“I think they’re one and the same question and I think to solve one, you have to address the other.”

Greens MLC Tim Clifford, who described resource executives as “climate criminals” in an address to the protest, said the promise of a major police operation had been unhelpful.

“People here expect a positive change and it doesn’t help on any side if the rhetoric is either violent or forceful or they scare people,” he told AAP.

“There are going to be more and more of these protests so I think we just need to make sure they’re planned in the right way.”