By Bronwen Beechey
ADELAIDE — A 24-hour picket at the site of the proposed power station at Pelican Point on the Le Fevre Peninsula is continuing, despite more arrests of protesters on April 27.
Local residents and members of Community Action for Pelican Point (CAPP) began picketing on April 19, when they learned that National Power, the British multinational contracted to build and run the power station, was about to construct an access road.
They oppose the new power station because it will pollute the already polluted Port River and its environs, open the way for polluting industries such as ship-breaking and endanger long-term residential development in the area. The government is resisting calls to site the power station at Whyalla or Torrens Island.
The April 19 picket attracted 30 people at short notice and persuaded some truck drivers to turn back. Police came, but allowed CAPP members to talk to contractors and explain why they were picketing.
However, on April 22 more than 50 police, including mounted police and members of the paramilitary STAR force, confronted 25 picketers and arrested nine of them, including construction union organiser Davey Thomason. On April 27, another 14 picketers were arrested.
CAPP members told Green Left Weekly that despite the police initially agreeing to warn protesters that they would be arrested if they didn't move on, people were arrested without warning. One woman was arrested despite having told police that she would move if told to. Those arrested were take to Port Adelaide, then released without charge.
Stuart Easom from CAPP condemned the use of police as private security guards for National Power.
CAPP is gaining broad support. Many residents are actively supporting the picket, and many drivers beep their horns as they pass. The local Labor Party branch, the Greens and independent MLC Nick Xenophon have all pledged support. On April 28, the Port Adelaide-Enfield Council unanimously resolved to seek a legal injunction against construction at the site.
Also on April 28, the state parliament's public works committee demanded an immediate halt to construction at Pelican Point, because the land title has not yet been transferred from the crown to National Power. All work on crown land must be approved by the committee.
State treasurer Rob Lucas rejected the call, saying that National Power has paid for the land and so legally owns it.
Easom told Green Left: "While the police have been arresting ordinary citizens at the picket, the real criminals are sitting in North Terrace and in the boardrooms in London, doing things that have proved to be illegal". He said that while the CAPP was pleased by the committee's recommendation, it is prepared to maintain the picket until the power station is built elsewhere.
CAPP is holding a protest march, supported by the local council, on May 9. For more information, phone Bruce Moffat on (08) 8242 0660 or e-mail <email@example.com>.