A PEACEFUL protest against drilling works for the unapproved WestCONnex New M5 came to an abrupt end today after riot police were called in to Alfred St, St Peters.
Local residents had been blockading the site since 6:30am to stop contractors overseen by WestCONnex construction firm Leighton (CIMIC) from setting up a drill rig for the unapproved project.
“The Baird Government should not be carrying out works for the WestCONnex New M5 before it has planning approval,” said WestCONnex Action Group (WAG) spokesperson Pauline Lockie.
“The uniformed Leighton staffer who was in charge of the site told us he was as an agent of the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS), and that these works were authorised under the Roads Act.
“But the Roads Act only allows these works for approved projects – which would make what they’re doing for the unapproved WestCONnex New M5 unlawful.
“That’s why residents again responded by taking peaceful direct action – including occupying the WestCONnex drill site and refusing to allow the drill rig to be set up.
“But yet again, WestCONnex contractors built their fencing around residents and called police – who then threatened residents with arrest for entering enclosed lands that were ‘owned’ by Leighton, a company that’s been accused of using corruption to win billion-dollar government contracts overseas.
“A dozen riot police were called in when five brave residents refused to stand aside to allow a truck carrying the drill into the site. After forcing residents back, the police formed a human barricade to allow the truck to pass so drilling works could start.
“One mother was sobbing as she was pushed aside by police, asking them how they could stand with a company like Leighton against their own community – especially when the lawfulness of the work they’re carrying out for WestCONnex is in such doubt.
“The Baird Government is trampling over our democratic rights in its rush to build WestCONnex and sell out our city to companies accused of corruption.
“But residents will continue to take peaceful direct action against WestCONnex as long as the Baird Government tries to bulldoze this sham project through.”
Media contacts: Pauline Lockie 0414 470 106, Emma Pierce 0413 386 527
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