Disruptions from protests likely to increase ahead of parliament sitting

By Jackson Graham

February 4, 2022

canberra-protest
Police move on protesters and their vehicles from their makeshift camp next to the National Library in Canberra, Friday, February 4, 2022. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Protests in Canberra are likely to ramp up in coming days in the lead up to parliament resuming, police say.  

ACT Police released a statement on Monday morning warning protest activity could create traffic delays. Parliament is due to resume on Tuesday this week. 

While the key protest areas are expected to be in the Parliamentary Triangle and the airport precinct, police are aware that due to the wide range of protest groups, other areas of Canberra may be targeted,” ACT Police said. 

“Protest action may happen with little to no notice.” 

Police said they supported the right of individuals to conduct “lawful, peaceful protests”, and reminded the wider community “not to take the law into their own hands” if they saw protesters acting illegally. 

“Police will respond where required and the people responsible will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” ACT Police said.  

Police moved on the protesters from lawns near the National Library on Friday after the National Capital Authority requested assistance in the days prior over illegal camping and parking in the Parliamentary Triangle. 

A 44-year-old man was arrested at the Patrick White Lawns on Friday after police allegedly found a loaded modified rifle in his vehicle. He’s also facing charges relating to the roadworthiness of the vehicle. 

Officers, including Australian Federal Police, moved camping equipment and four illegally parked cars – which the owners refused to move – from the site. 

“Due to planned and unplanned events in the area, traffic disruptions may continue to occur in the Parliamentary Triangle area in the coming days,” ACT Police said in a statement. 

“While ACT Policing recognises the rights of people to peacefully protest, when illegal actions take place the people responsible will be dealt with in accordance with the law.” 

It followed a week that saw protesters – loosely referred to as the “Convoy to Canberra” but reportedly including several groups – appearing at city locations, including Parliament House and the National Press Club, causing road closures and disruptions.

The National Capital Authority said in a statement earlier in the week it had enlisted police assistance to protect assets on national land. 

“Our democracy recognises this right, which is subject to the general law and must be balanced against the rights and interests of others in the community,” the statement said. 

“Of paramount importance is the protection of public safety and public assets, the maintenance of the peace, and fair and equal access to public areas.”

The authority said it had granted permits to events organisers from Wednesday in the National Triangle, but no further permits had been issued for East West Lawns, Questacon car park or Patrick White Lawns.


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