Police Minister calls peaceful climate protesters "environmental vandals"

In Estimates, Abigail confronted the Police Minister about the oppressive and violent police tactics used on peaceful protesters. Read more to find out his response. 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: I just wanted to get started in relation to the actions that have been taken against peaceful protestors. Firstly, you made a number of quite extreme comments about peaceful climate activists over the last few months, particularly around the time of the Colo camp raid. Will you now apologise for inciting acts of vigilante violence against peaceful climate activists that has resulted in threats of violence, verbal assault, and has seen peaceful citizens being violently rammed by an accelerating vehicle?

Mr PAUL TOOLE: The answer is, no, I am not going to apologise, and I'll say that over and over again. The way in which you tell me that these protestors done it in a peaceful manner is a load of hogwash at the
end of the day because these people actually have no regard for people's lives. The activities we saw at Colo were reflective of Blockade Australia's contempt on people's lives. We saw on the Hunter rail line where they would put cars that had been disused onto that line. These people were not a part of a peaceful protest. They are economic vandals. They impacted on people's daily activities. People could have potentially seen not only a freight train derail but a passenger train derail, and you're telling me that they're peaceful protestors. 


Mr PAUL TOOLE: Far from it. So you're saying it's okay for— 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: No, the questions are from me to you.

Mr PAUL TOOLE: No, you did, you said they're peaceful, and they are not peaceful. They are not peaceful. They are putting cars on railway tracks—

ABIGAIL BOYD: You have said that already.

Mr PAUL TOOLE: —and what they are doing is actually potentially seeing a train derail with passengers and to see people's lives being killed.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Speaking of derail, I see you're trying to derail my line of questioning.

Mr PAUL TOOLE: No, you're actually talking about Blockade Australia. I'll tell you what they are.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: If you could perhaps respond to my questions.

Mr PAUL TOOLE: Then they string themselves to poles. They glue themselves to the road.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Minister, this is estimates. I ask you questions; you respond in a direct way.

Mr PAUL TOOLE: I'm answering your question. You just don't like my answer. You asked it. You told me they were peaceful protestors. They are nothing but economic vandals. They are environmental vandals.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: So you don't apologise for inciting violence against peaceful protesters?

Mr PAUL TOOLE: What do you think about that when they're environment vandals? They're walking down the streets of Sydney and they're throwing garbage bins out.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: The biggest environmental vandal here is your Government, Minister. 


Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Minister, was it you that ordered the surveillance at that camp?

Mr PAUL TOOLE: First of all, let me just point out two things. First, it is a police operation and I don't get involved in police operational matters. However, you do know that we did make some changes to the
legislation, which I was actually a part of with the Minister for Transport in relation to bringing in two years' jail and up to $22,000 in fines for those people that are going to be blocking our roads and our rail network and the activities that they undertook.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: So back to the question.

Mr PAUL TOOLE: It's a police operation.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Are you aware, Minister, that there was a deliberate attempt to spy on these peaceful protestors at their camp in order to try and create some sort of ancillary offence to the new protest laws—aiding and abetting and that sort of thing?

Mr PAUL TOOLE: As I said, it's a police operation, and I might actually ask in a moment the police commissioner to also speak in relation to it. But also, when we're talking about community safety and when we're
talking about police taking actions that are required, I back them in. I back them in 100 per cent because this was not a peaceful protest. These were not people playing circus tricks on somebody's property.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: They were hanging out drinking tea, Minister. 

Mr PAUL TOOLE: These were people that had an intention to actually clearly cause damage and economic vandalism across this State.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Drinking tea.

Mr PAUL TOOLE: And you're backing them in.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: For sitting around drinking tea.


You can read the full transcript here.

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