November 4, 2009
On September 13, about 500 protestors gathered at the Hazelwood Coal Station to participate in a “community protest and non-violent mass civil disobedience.”
The protestors were calling for the closure of the station and to convert the Latrobe Valley into a mass renewable energy area.
Energy Minister Peter Bachelor told The Age that illegal action would not be tolerated, saying that any disruption to the plants power supply would “carry significant costs”.
The main aim of the protest was to deliver a symbolic decommission notice to workers and to attempt to shut down the power plant.
Neither aims were achieved.
Police arrested 22 people on the day.
The majority of protestors were arrested for trespassing, except one man arrested for assaulting a police officer.
It has been revealed that 250 police officers were present, including horses, dogs, a helicopter and boats on the pond.
The operation cost about $200,000.
There has been wide objection by protestors and community alike, that the police presence was too large and verged on brutal.
But Superintendent Neville Taylor told The Age the police had to be prepared for anything.
He says most of the crowd was well behaved, but the large number of arrests was disappointing.
“We planned our police presence with all the planning we did with the organisers, and how we thought we needed to go about this,” he said.
“Our main aim is making sure that we had a safe day for everybody, safe for protesters, safe for employees, and safe for the community, who wanted to go about their business.
“So we feel that [with] the police we’ve had on hand, we’ve been able to achieve that.
Below are testimonials of two people who attended the protest.