Protestors on buses harassed
PROTESTERS travelling by bus to a rally held in Canberra yesterday said they were intimidated and harassed by a man claiming to be a NSW Transport and Infrastructure inspector.
Apparently, the man threatened to ‘shut them down’ and ‘take them off the road’.
The rally was in support of Cooma district grazier Peter Spencer, who has been on a hunger strike seeking Commonwealth compensation for land clearing restrictions being used to underpin Australia’s carbon emission targets.
Goonellabah resident Jimmy Harvie, who organised a busload of protesters from the Northern Rivers, said he received a call on Saturday morning from a man dem-anding to know which bus company he was using.
“I already knew he had threatened supporters in Coffs Harbour, so I pretended to know nothing,” Mr Harvie said.
“I said ‘What protest, I’m just taking a group of friends to Canberra to see the swans and have a swim in Lake Burley Griffin’, then hung up on him.”
Bob and Jeanette Jones, who had organised a bus from Coffs Harbour, said they were also called on Saturday morning by an aggressive and threatening man dem-anding names and numbers of protesters and bus companies.
The man claimed he was in Coffs Harbour and was not happy he’d been recalled from holidays. He told them that six inspectors had been seconded to the region toharass any bus company carrying protesters.
“He phoned about 9amvery arrogant and irate and told us he could put us off the road,” Mr Jones said.
“He gave his name and said he was from the RTA Transport and Infrastructure (sic) and had been instructed to scrutinise the bus companies taking protesters to Canberra.
“He said they could stop the buses at any RTA heavy vehicle checking station and hold us for six hours, and that he had the power to shut us down.
“The owner of the bus company was worried about his business and pulled out.”
Buses chartered from other towns, including Inverell, Moree, Roma, Gunnedah and Quirindi, were cancelled because of the threats and protesters had to organise car pools to get to Canberra.
However, the RTA and NSW Transport and Infrastructure, which are separate government departments, both strongly denied any involvement.
Nationals MP Kevin Humphries, who travelled to Canberra for the rally, said he was deeply disturbed by the allegations and would beinvestigating the incidents.