THREE residents, including journalist and activist Wendy Bacon, were arrested by riot police in Newtown on Friday morning during a peaceful protest against drilling works for the unapproved third stage of the WestCONnex toll road.
They were part of a group of around 30 residents who gathered at Holmwood St from 7:30am as contractors for multinational corporation AECOM tried to start drilling for the WestCONnex M4-M5 Link.
Riot police forcibly removed residents from the site after contractors built part of a temporary cage around them on public land. The three were arrested and held at Newtown police station for over seven hours before being charged with remaining on inclosed lands. One woman was also charged with resisting arrest, despite not hearing any move-on order and having her wrist severely sprained by police.
“The Baird government has completely overridden democratic planning processes at every stage of WestCONnex,” said Prof Bacon.
“Now it’s allowing multinational company AECOM to carry out weeks of drilling in local streets with the backing of the riot squad while the community is denied any meaningful say in WestCONnex.
“AECOM has already won more than $30 million in WestCONnex contracts, and now it’s profiting from the third stage which has no approval of any kind. This is planning to suit private interests, not the public.
“I’ve always believed in peaceful direct action when community rights are denied. So I’ll keep standing with residents to protect communities from WestCONnex, and demand that the Baird government stop allowing private tollway companies to cause massive damage across Sydney,” said Prof Bacon.
“The Baird Government should not be carrying out WestCONnex works before it has planning approval,” said WestCONnex Action Group (WAG) spokesperson Anne Picot.
“It is appalling to see police once again ignoring the concerns of the community they serve, and acting as private security for the multinationals profiting from Mike Baird’s deeply unpopular WestCONnex tollway.
“It is incredibly disturbing that police used such force against one resident that she had to have her wrist placed in a cast at the police station – and that they refused to release her to seek hospital care.
“These events show yet again how badly the Baird Government is trampling over our democratic rights to build the disastrous WestCONnex tollway. But residents will continue to resist WestCONnex at every drill, every tree, and every home,” said Ms Picot.
Media contacts: Wendy Bacon 0409 403 774, Anne Picot 0404 090 710