Tue, Sep 24, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Queensland premier refuses to provide evidence of claims against protesters

The Guardian

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has formally refused to provide any evidence to support her claims to the state’s parliament that climate change activists are using devices “laced with traps.”

Last month, Palaszczuk made the comments — along with social media posts saying protesters were using “sinister tactics” and intended to cause harm — as she announced new laws cracking down on escalating climate and anti-coal demonstrations in Queensland.

Palaszczuk told parliament she had been briefed by Queensland Police Service Commissioner Katarina Carroll and shown evidence of devices used by protesters that contained fragments of broken glass and butane canisters.

Within hours of her announcement, questions emerged about whether the claims were true.

Police believe “locking” devices can be dangerous, but accepted their intent was to prevent the removal of activists.

The government has not provided evidence to support the extent of its claims about the actions and intent of protesters.

Greens lawmaker Michael Berkman put several questions on notice to Palaszczuk, asking the premier to outline how many examples of such devices she had been made aware of, and the respective dates and locations.

Berkman also asked Palaszczuk to detail how, as she had claimed, the devices were designed to harm.

In her published response, Palaszczuk said she received a briefing “in relation to operational police matters,” so “it would not be prudent to publicly disclose the contents of that briefing.”

“The premier used this briefing to justify introducing new criminal offences and expanding police powers. That’s not something that should be done without an incredibly good reason, but she can’t even give us one,” Berkman said. “If the government is no longer required to provide any factual basis for legislation we’re in trouble.”

The state government last week tabled draft legislation to outlaw “dangerous attachment devices.” Explanatory notes revealed the government had sought the input of the mining lobby.

Environmental groups and other critics are concerned at the extent to which the Queensland Labor has changed its rhetoric and sought to embrace the coal sector to sure up regional support.

“It’s beyond belief that peaceful protesters are ... focused on and treated harshly when the government should be turning their attention to these big mining companies, the impacts of their coal and to making sure they comply with the law,” the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland chief executive Jo-Anne Bragg said.

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