Rally protest was peaceful
ROCKS were never thrown by protesters on the Byrrill Creek stage of last September’s Repco Rally, police have said.
Chief Superintendent Jeff Loy said the widely-publicised allegations that rally protesters had thrown rocks at competitors during stage six had been investigated by police.
“There was no evidence rocks were thrown,” Supt Loy said. “It did not happen.”
Supt Loy made the announcement during a public meeting held in Murwillumbah last Wednesday as part of the rally review, being conducted by the NSW Government.
“They protested peacefully,” Supt Loy said.
The Byrrill Creek stage of the rally was cancelled after a rally marshal reported that rocks had been thrown at competitors.
Anti-rally protesters hadalways denied being involved in any rock throwing incidents, which were reported in the media around the world.
Protesters were also acc-used of trying to obstruct the Byrrill Creek stage by cutting fences to let out livestock, waving yellow flags to confuse competitors and placing boulders on the road.
One protester is alleged to have stood in the path of competitors in order to read out a prepared speech.
Supt Loy said he could not comment on the veracity of these claims. “I can only speak about the allegations of rock throwing,” he said.
No Rally group spokesman Scott Sledge said rock-throwing allegations had gotten more attention than the rally itself.
“It was reported as far away as The New York Times,” he said.
Mr Sledge said the accusations had caused protesters to be vilified as extremists and that some anti-rally protesters were boycotting Kyogle and Murwillumbah as aresult.
Rally review meetings were held in Kyogle last Tuesday, attended by about 200 people, and Murwillumbah on Wednesday, attended by about 160 people.
Under the 2009 Motor Sports Act, the legislation the NSW Parliament passed last year to ensure the event went ahead, a review of the event’s impact on tourism, the environment, Aboriginal cultural heritage, public safety and the local community must be conducted and a report prepared for Parliament.
Mike Cahill, who chaired the review meetings, said it would be ‘transparent and meaningful’ – but residents are sceptical. They are calling for the economic benefits of the rally to be fully analysed.