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Activists swarm at William Street, yell at Premier inside to ‘stop hiding’

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks at 1 William Street while activists chant outside.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks at 1 William Street while activists chant outside.Credit:Lydia Lynch

“I am a mother, not a criminal, stop hiding from our children, Anna,” one protester yelled as public servants watched on from inside the building.

“These laws affect us, come down and look us in the eye.”

At least two people were arrested during the action.

One William Street, nicknamed “the Tower of Power”, was put into lockdown about 10am.

Security staff were asking workers to grab a cup of coffee from the cafe inside instead of leaving the building while the action happened.

Ms Palaszczuk said she supported peaceful protests, having been involved with them as a university student.

“My government has no plans to stop peaceful protest, but what we do want to do is stop the use of these dangerous devices,” she said.

“Every time a police officer or firie is cutting into one of these devices, they are putting their lives at risk.

“I need our firies out fighting fires and I need our police out doing their job as well.

“It is just getting beyond a joke now.”

At protests in August, police said activists were using booby-trapped cylinders and drums that contained glass fragments, and even butane gas containers, so anyone trying to cut a protester free would be injured.

The government had plans to introduce the laws at the end of November, but will fast-track the committee process so Parliament is able to debate the laws and introduce them by the end of the month.

Queensland’s only Greens MP, Michael Berkman, said the fast-tracking of laws was a “disgusting betrayal of democracy”.

“The committee scrutiny is often completely inadequate and now we are not even going to have the benefit of that with these new draconian laws,” he said.

“The Police Minister has still presented no evidence for his bogus claims that these devices are booby-trapped or designed to put first responders’ safety at risk and now we are not even going to have the opportunity to scrutinise those claims through the committee process.

Police officers outside 1 William Street, which was in lockdown ahead of the expected arrival of Extinction Rebellion protesters.

Police officers outside 1 William Street, which was in lockdown ahead of the expected arrival of Extinction Rebellion protesters.Credit:Lydia Lynch

Police Minister Mark Ryan said last week he had seen “evidence of a police officer who incurred an injury as a result of removing one of these devices from a protester”.

“When you’ve got people driving around the CBD yesterday, with a ute rolling 44 gallon drums full of concrete and other material stuffed inside, off the back of the ute into an intersection in the CBD and then locking themselves down … that is risky, dangerous behaviour,” he said.

Mr Ryan said he had written to the committee chair to hold hearings next week so the laws could be debated before the end of the month.

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Ms Palaszczuk said her government was taking “clear action” on climate change.

“We have a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. When we came to office we had around 5 or 6 per cent renewable energy in this state – it is now almost up to 21 per cent.”

When asked if she would meet face to face with protesters, Ms Palaszczuk said if “they have great policy ideas, if they want to get involved in the political process and put forward ideas”.

She said she hoped the LNP would support the new laws but LNP deputy leader Tim Mander said the proposed legislation did not go far enough to stop the the city being “held to ransom by very, very selfish protesters”.

“The laws that Annastacia Palaszczuk has before the house will not stop people dangling from the Story Bridge, they will not stop people gluing themselves to the roads and they will not stop the valuable time of our police and paramedics being wasted,” Mr Mander said.

“The LNP has laws before the Parliament at the moment that won’t fine protesters hundreds of dollars but tens of thousands of dollars and will put serial pests in jail.”

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