Olympic Dam Protest: 400 police at Desert Liberation Front

Herald Sun 15th July 2012

Protester assaulted in Roxby Downs

One of the anti-Olympic Dam protesters has been assaulted in Roxby Downs.

It is understood the protester was buying water earlier this afternoon when the assault happened, but police have yet to release the details.

Police hope to keep today's protest march to the Olympic Dam mine gates to one lane of the road after protesters went against arrangements during yesterday's demonstration.

While police were largely happy with yesterday's peaceful protest, which ended without incident, Northern Operations Assistant Commissioner Neil Smith said the group had strayed from what was planned.

Expand / Caption

Mobile Upload - 15th July 2012

"We were a little bit disappointed (yesterday) that despite the agreements with the protesters that they wouldn't block the whole road, that they just took it on themselves to spread out across the whole road and block the road for a two-hour period," Mr Smith said.

"We've asked for today that they actually restrict their protest to the left hand side of the carriageway so that we can still move vehicles through when we need to.

"Our plan is once again for a peaceful protest with co-operation from us and also from the protesters so everyone can do what they need to do."

The group of about 400 protesters will stage a 1.3km "zombie march" from their campsite to the mine gates about 2pm today.

Mr Smith said the protesters agreed for yesterday's march to last for an hour but this blew out to more than two hours.

One protester has so far been arrested but this was in regards to a traffic infringement, not protest action.

"It was to do with traffic offences and a refusal to provide their personal details," Mr Smith said.

BHP Billiton external affairs vice president Kym Winter-Dewhirst said it was "business as usual for the mine" and the closure of the road for more than two hours made no impact.

"It's been reported to me that in terms of production, we've reached all of our targets," he said.

"We have a workforce on (site) there during the (protest) so it didn't impact anything in terms of the production of the mine."

Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott, who has unsuccesfully tried in the High Court to reverse the government's decision to grant the Olympic Dam mine expansion, said the protest was "so far so good".

"It's only early days," he said.

"We want to get the right message out there.

"There is a lot of destruction being done to sacred places."

Police overkill again: Olympic Dam Protest

There are 450 police officers in the Outback town including STAR Group officers, police on horseback, dirt bike patrols, sniffer dogs and a police helicopter. Mr Buzzacott yesterday spoke out against the heavy police presence.

"This is the worse behaviour I have ever seen," he said.

"They are only doing it because we are here."

"And they are shit scared."

A 25m surveillance tower with two security cameras has also been erected just inside the Olympic Dam mine gates

Protesters from every state are present, as well as some from overseas.

Police will not say how many officers are involved, only that they have "adequate resources". However, The Advertiser understands there are 450 officers involved 250 for public order and 200 for logistics.

"A big message for BHP is watch out, the lizard is coming to get ya," Lizard's Revenge co-organiser Izzy Brown said.

Ms Brown said the police resources were excessive. "It seems absolutely outrageous that such taxpayer's money should be spent on over policing like this," she said.

Police Northern Operations Assistant Commissioner Neil Smith denied resources were being wasted. "We've got adequate (police) to deal with what we need to on the day and we'll obviously ramp up or down according to what is occurring at the time," he said.

"It's not a waste of resources. We have planned for the event as we've seen and the information provided," he added.

Some Olympic Dam workers are forced to stay off-site while the event unfolds and some non-essential sub-contractors have also been asked to take a week off work, it is understood.

Meanwhile, a drink and drug driver testing station on the Stuart Highway, north of Port Augusta, has yielded cannabis seizures and positive drug tests on the eve of the Lizard's Revenge protest at Olympic Dam.

The testing station, which ran for three days until 6pm on Friday, breath tested 638 motorists and drug tested 107 drivers.

None were caught drink driving but three returned positive drug tests - two for cannabis and one for amphetamines.

Police also made one arrest, handed out 29 traffic infringement notices, 13 general expiation notices and made 23 vehicle defects.

Sniffer dogs made 87 searches, yielding 11 cannabis finds.

SA Police Traffic Support Branch Inspector Andrew Thiele branded the three-day operation a success.

"This proactive operation was aimed at detecting, seizing and reducing drugs in our community," he said.

"We also aimed to reduce harm by ensuring the safety and roadworthiness of all vehicles, particularly during school holidays, with many families traveling on our roads."

SA Police Northern Operations Assistant Commissioner Neil Smith said the operation wasn't completely geared towards people heading to Olympic Dam for the Lizard's Revenge protest.

"We often do drug transit routes (testing) on the Stuart Highway. We know that it is a transit route between there and the Alice Springs and the APY Lands," he said.

"We quite often do it and we've had some quite big hauls. We do have problems on the APY Lands and in Mintabie and those areas with drugs.

"The whole purpose of it is catching drug runners."