Brisbane: Dutton roof protesters cop $100 fines

Protesters who climbed onto the awning of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's office have been fined.
21 Nov – Three women who reportedly cost taxpayers thousands of dollars by protesting on the roof of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s electoral office in Brisbane have been fined $100 each.

The trio scaled the roof of Mr Dutton’s office in Strathpine on November 2 to protest against the Coalition government’s proposed life-time ban on refugees arriving by boat.

Mr Dutton claimed at the time that police and emergency services would have spent $10,000 worth of resources “trying to get these idiots down from my roof”.


WA: Youth prison guards angry after riot

13 Nov – The latest violent incident at Perth’s juvenile detention centre – the 10th in less than two-and-a-half months – has prompted the prison officers’ union to blame it on the introduction of a rehabilitation program imported from the US.

Seven detainees were involved – three who jumped out of a window trying to escape – causing an estimated $350,000 to $400,000 trashing their unit on Saturday afternoon.

Guards used flash bombs and chemical spray to control rioting detainees.

The youths barricaded themselves in, removed bricks from walls and threw them at staff, broke every reinforced glass window and pulled panelling and cabling out of the ceiling, says the Community and Public Sector Union.

The Banksia Hill centre was locked down for three hours.

There has been a rise in incidents, including an officer having his arm broken and elbow dislocated by a 17-year-old detainee in mid-September and a riot that caused $150,000 damage on September 1.

“We’ve been saying for some time now that detainees’ behaviour is getting worse, becoming more prone to violence and the staff – our members – are concerned about how long it will be before they end up in the firing line,” union WA secretary Toni Walkington told AAP.

The introduction of a more rehabilitation-focussed “Transformation Project” from the US and cultural change under Corrective Services commissioner James McMahon and deputy Rachael Green had been flawed and not properly explained to staff, she said, while other education and cognitive skills programs were cut.

The program was used in small prisons with handpicked detainees deemed suitable in the US, but at Banksia Hill was being applied to all 130-odd inmates, Ms Walkington said.

“It has not been made clear in concrete terms how all this fits together … our members have been asked to behave and conduct themselves differently without really knowing how that works in the whole system,” she said.

New rules introduced in July restricted officers’ ability restrain or conduct strip searches and spit hoods were banned after the ABC TV Four Corners program showing guards abusing children in Darwin.

There is anger between some officers and the Department of Corrective Services.

Those officers believe they are now unsafe at work because of a regime which Ms Green has said “puts the young person at the centre of everything”.

The department dismisses disgruntled guards as wanting to be allowed to go back to being prison officers rather than the softer-sounding “youth justice” or “group workers”, Ms Green wants them to be called.

Mr McMahon said in a statement that importantly no staff or young people were injured, the incident was contained to a small area and there was never any threat to security at Banksia Hill.

Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said he was confident Mr McMahon had the right team managing Banksia Hill.

I’ve turned up there unannounced twice in the last two weeks, walked around without a panic button, without a duress button, without an escort, walked around while 50-odd kids were kicking the footy around and I felt safer there than I do in some parts of Australia,” he said.

Auckland: Police and protesters clash at defence forum

Police are attempting to stop the protesters from crossing a blockade at the Viaduct Events Centre.

16 Nov – Police have clashed with protesters in Auckland as about 100 people demonstrate against an event they say is a “weapons expo”.

Demonstraters broke through barricades at the Viaduct Events Centre and staged a sit-in protest.

About 40 police officers were also at Wynyard Quarter to keep the protesters at bay.

Members of Auckland Peace Action have gathered to demonstrate against the annual conference of the New Zealand Defence Industry Association, which they describe as a weapons expo.

Protesters outside the annual conference of the New Zealand Defence Industry Association.

Protesters outside the annual conference of the New Zealand Defence Industry Association.

The defence forum is attended by arms dealers from all over the world.

The conference coincides with the arrival of a flotilla of warships from around the world, which have sailed into the Waitemata Harbour to join the New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

Police and protesters clash outside the annual defence forum in Auckland

Police and protesters clash outside the annual defence forum in Auckland.

Auckland Peace Action spokesperson Virginia Lambert told RNZ yesterday that the protesters were prepared to stay “until forcibly removed”.

“We’ve come together to oppose the celebration of war, the glorification of war,” she said.

Protesters at the annual defence forum


New Zealand Defence Industry Association chair Bernie Diver disputed the weapons expo term, saying it was an industry discussion – with government – to support and equip the New Zealand Defence Force.

There would be no military-style weapons at the event, he said.

“We’ve got a couple of high-end personal weapons, rifles, which are no different from what you’d see at a hunting store.”

He said the protesters’ actions and descriptions of the event were misguided.

“It is really just completely misguided and an embarrassment. I think overwhelmingly most New Zealanders, everyday New Zealanders, are incredibly proud of the work that our Defence Force does, and I know that the companies that work with Defence are incredibly proud.”

Mr Diver said 300 delegates were prevented from entering the conference, while around the same number were stuck inside the venue.

He said the conference would continue tomorrow and its venue may change.

The world’s largest nuclear arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, is the main sponsor of the forum.

The blockade at the weapons conference in Auckland.

Last year’s event in Wellington resulted in the arrest of 28 protesters.

Melbourne Youth Justice Centre hit by fresh riot, officer hurt at second jail

13 Nov – Rioting inmates have destroyed security cameras and ripped ceilings and walls apart, causing an estimated $2 million in damages at Melbourne’s youth detention centre.

About 20 inmates at the Parkville facility were left without beds on Saturday night after their cells were trashed.

The riot came as an inmate at another prison facility attacked four prison officers, inflicting a serious neck injury.

Streets in Parkville were blocked on Saturday night as police dealt with the riot at the Youth Justice Centre.

Police, firefighters and paramedics were called to the centre.

Inmates at the juvenile facility destroyed security cameras, computers, and ripped the ceiling and walls apart during the riot, a prison source said.

It’s believed the sprinkler system was also severely damaged after the group broke into one of the buildings and found a sledge hammer and shovel.

Computers were then thrown through the windows before the group climbed up on the roof and demanded junk food and a phone, the source said.

No youth justice officers or inmates were injured during the incident.

The riot only ended after police called in the dog squad.

The disturbance is believed to have been started by the same youth who triggered another riot on Thursday at the centre.

Community and Public Sector Union spokesman Julian Kennelly said officers had contacted the union about the riot, saying about 20 teenage inmates were involved and that the trouble centred on three residential units.

State government minister Richard Wynne condemned the rioting.

“The government is obviously really concerned about the events that occurred at the Youth Justice Centre last night, and, in fact, we have just put on 41 staff to ensure that the centre remains secure,” Mr Wynne said.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullen said paramedics were initially called to the centre due to reports of youths on a roof and were on standby but were not required.

Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mike Griffin said the department would “thoroughly examine” the circumstances leading up to the incident.

“The behaviour of these clients on Saturday was unacceptable and staff shouldn’t have to tolerate it,” he said.

Changes in policy could see the riot reported to the Youth Parole Board and may affect the parole eligibility of those involved.

Earlier this month, the Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos, announced that any youth inmate who assaulted a staff member or was involved in any other serious incident would have the matter reported to the parole board.

“We are developing a range of tougher measures to ensure we put a stop to this,” she said on Sunday.

The centre has been plagued by violence in recent times.

In September, inmates and staff clashed for three consecutive nights and several juvenile offenders threatened staff and took control of part of the centre.

Amelia Banks, who lives nearby, said she heard a “police helicopter and a stream of emergency vehicles driving past with sirens blaring”.

She raised concerns that the rioting was becoming frequent and worried about the safety of the children and officers inside.

“Whatever happens inside the centre clearly isn’t working as the children who are in custody seem to be ready to riot at any given moment,” Ms Banks said.

Alana Marzuke, who also lives nearby, said she saw up to seven police cars at the scene.

In the separate prison incident on Saturday night, four Port Phillip Prison officers were assaulted during a cell search, with one suffering a suspected serious neck injury.

The prison officers were searching an inmate’s cell after visiting hours to check whether he had received contraband.

Paramedics were called to the Truganina prison at 7.10pm and transported the officer, aged in his 30s, to hospital. Ambulance Victoria confirmed the man was in a stable condition.

Mr Kennelly said the inmate was believed to be using drugs.

“If he has taken down four officers, we would suspect it was ice or something similar,” he said.

The prison was placed in lock-down, Mr Kennelly said.

Three other prison officers were treated for minor injuries, and capsicum spray was used to subdue the prisoner.

He said Port Phillip Prison’s contraband detection system was inferior to other prisons around the state and called for the private operator, G4S Australia, to upgrade it.

Mr Kennelly said contraband was rife in Port Phillip Prison, and this, added to overcrowding, was making it difficult and sometimes dangerous for prison officers.

“Port Phillip was built 20 years ago to house 600 inmates and it is now housing nearly double that,” Mr Kennelly said.

Opposition corrections spokesman Edward O’Donohue said the justice system was in crisis.

“Further evidence overnight that the justice system in Victoria is in crisis with young offenders rioting at the youth justice centre, while prisoners at Port Phillip are attacking staff and reportedly taking ice,” Mr O’Donohue said.

Prison operator G4S said it used “robust and proactive” security measures, which were having a positive impact on safety at the facility on a daily basis.

“We employ multiple strategies that are incorporated with modern systems to stop the flow and demand of contraband,” G4S director Brett McMerrin said.