Thousands rally against Pelican Point power station

Issue 

By Bronwen Beechey

ADELAIDE — More than 2000 people opposed to the proposed Pelican Point power station rallied in Semaphore on May 9 at a protest organised by Community Action for Pelican Point (CAPP).

CAPP has been picketing the power station site on the Le Fevre Peninsula since April 19, when construction of an access road began. CAPP members and supporters have been arrested for attempting to turn back trucks.

Participants at the rally were welcomed by Auntie Veronica Brodie, a local resident and representative of the Kaurna people, the traditional owners of the area.

Port Adelaide-Enfield mayor Joanna McCluskey, who was among 29 women arrested at a women's protest on May 6, told the crowd that the campaign was "an extraordinary and diverse group of people". She pointed out that a May 8 editorial in the Advertiser had admitted the campaign had considerable support and suggested a government inquiry into possible alternative sites.

McCluskey outlined the environmental damage that would be done by the power station pumping hot water and chemicals into the Port River. She said toxic industries such as ship-breaking could also be located at Pelican Point once the station is built.

Whyalla deputy mayor Eddie Hughes addressed the rally on behalf of a large contingent from the town. Whyalla residents, he pointed out, overwhelmingly support locating the power station there, while the council saw it as an opportunity to provide jobs and environmentally safe power generation.

Jan Kelly, a member of CAPP, described residents' anger at the SA government for its lack of consultation and its assumption that toxic industries can be dumped in working-class areas. She said the response of a government bureaucrat at a meeting with residents was: "Frankly, your opinion doesn't matter. After all, you're hardly the Gold Coast."

ALP and Democrat MPs, and well-known green bans founder Jack Mundey also addressed the rally, which then marched to Largs Bay.

Since the rally, police at the picket have stepped up arrests and intimidation. One CAPP member was arrested while walking along the side of the road, on the grounds that the police believed he "may be about to commit an offence".

CAPP coordinator Gwen Kelly told Green Left Weekly that CAPP had been told that owners National Power had instructed police to "get tough" on picketers. "On one occasion, the National Power site manager was standing next to the police and telling them what to do."

CAPP is maintaining the picket and planning further actions, including a public meeting on May 18 and a blockade of state parliament in late May. CAPP encourages supporters to come to the picket, at the corner of Victoria Road and Pelican Point Road, Osborne. For more information, phone Gwen Kelly on 0414 710 476.