Police look to recover costs
ANTI-ADANI activists could be forced to foot the bill when police are called out to their protests.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said in Townsville yesterday that there were ways the State Government could recover the cost of sending police resources to protest sites if necessary.
A similar situation is unfolding in Melbourne where the organiser behind a speaking event by British political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos' was asked to cough up $50,000 to cover the cost of police resources during a violent protest.
Mr Stewart said police would follow the situation "with interest".
Anti-Adani protesters have targeted their demonstrations at disrupting work on the mining company's Galilee Basin rail corridor at Belyando Crossing, often chaining themselves to equipment.
Police were called to another protest at Belyando Crossing this week where health professionals chained themselves to gates.
Mr Stewart said police respected the right for lawful and reasonable protests by any group.
"We are trying to build that relationship to allow them to have their democratic right to protest lawfully," he said.
"But certainly that (recovering costs) is an option, but that is usually done through … a court process."
The Townsville Bulletin understands that it costs police thousands of dollars each time police are called to Belyando Crossing.
It is also understood a protester was forced to pay restitution after a cherrypicker was used to bring him down from a tree. It's believed the machinery cost more than $3000.
The average fine for the protesters has been about $750.
The Bulletin understands police are often called from Clermont - more than 170km away from Belyando Crossing - as first responders, followed by a tactical crime squad and negotiator from Mackay - more than 330km away - to cut protesters from any chains.
Activists have been known to travel from interstate to chain themselves to machinery and gates with police having to journey the hundreds of kilometres to either arrest them or move them on.
Mackay police acting Inspector Nathan Blain said the protests occurred several times each week.
"Sometimes depending on the numbers required we may have to call more (police) in, there can be some travel time involved," he said.
"We treat each job on a case by case priority basis."
Police Minister Mark Ryan said that people might not always agree with what someone has to say but, in most cases, they had a right to say it.
"It is the Commissioner who decides if it is necessary to recover any costs and, as always, I will not interfere in operational matters," he said.
Protest group Frontline Action on Coal declined to comment.