WA Police are out in force around the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre ahead of planned climate protests at a resources conference that kicks off today.
A coalition of about 13 environmental groups including Extinction Rebellion WA and School Strike 4 Climate will join the blockade of the Resources Technology Showcase, which features BHP chief executive-elect Mike Henry, Chevron Australia managing director Al Williams, and Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman.
The massive influx of police follows violent clashes between protesters and police at the International Mining and Resources Conference held at Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre last month.
WA Police Metropolitan Region Commander Tony Flack said the scale of the security operation equals that of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Perth almost a decade ago.
“I don’t think in terms of what we’ve done in terms of around the convention centre we’ve put an operation like this in since CHOGM,” he told 6PR’s Gareth Parker. “It’s as secure as CHOGM.”
Around 700 delegates will attend the conference along with thousands of school children and members of the public who were expected to attend a technology showcase held alongside the conference.
“All our planning is avoiding that conflict,” Flack said. “We’ve probably had better planning than potentially Melbourne did.
The event’s organisers had allowed protesters to use the centre forecourt for protesting activity.
“I think it’s really important to stress to these people, this is going to be attended not just by delegates of the resource and mining industry but we’re going to have thousands of school kids and members of the public attempting to see what is a fantastic technology showcase,” Flack said.
“They want to go about it freely and exercise their own civil rights to do so. We won’t put up with people interfering with the passage of people.
“Any attempt to do that will receive a police response, generally what happens is you’re ordered to leave the premises if you fail to leave you’re locked up for trespassing.”
But Extinction Rebellion WA spokesman Jesse Noakes maintained the planned protests are “explicitly non-violent”.
“We can confirm that discussion has been had between protest organisers and Police in order to safely facilitate our rights to protest without police violence and with the safety of the general public in mind,” Noakes said.
“Any risk to safety or physical or verbal assaults of people are simply not in our DNA.”