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to the People of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland from Glasshouse to
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Developers ask
protesters to leave

by Cameron Outridge & Tara Conway

Protesters at the Maleny supermarket site, including tree dweller Daniel Jones, will be asked to move on because of safety concerns.  The move follows last week’s incident where a young woman fell from the tree and broke her wrist.

   Cornerstones Andrew  Harper

“Today we have asked the protesters to leave our site,” Cornerstone General
Manager Andrew Harper said on Thursday.  “There’s already been an accident, and we don’t want any more.  “It’s a construction site, after all and it’s dangerous. There are stumps and twisted metal on the site.”

As a further safety precaution, Cornerstone have asked that all signs and banners be removed from their fence.  Mr Harper said the signs are attached to the fence.  “Those fences are not made to withstand those things and those fences may fall over in a wind and harm someone.   And then who is liable?”

“I suppose it’s possible,” said Maleny Platypus spokesperson Jon Woodlands, tongue in cheek .  “But the cyclone season is just about over now.”  Police have said they would issue Mr Jones with a notice to quit but it would be up to him to leave.  “They want him to come down but they are reluctant to get involved,’’ said Mr Woodlands.  Not surprisingly, Mr Jones says he won’t be leaving the tree.

Developers ask protesters to leave “The only way I’d ever come down is if I was issued with a notice stating the tree would not be cut down,” he said.  Mr Jones said last week he had not yet been issued with the notice, nor been informed of Cornerstone’s intentions.

Mr Harper said despite fears of another public relations nightmare, his company needed to be seen to be trying to do the right thing.  “I’ve got nothing against protesting,’’ he said.  “That is people’s right.  But if someone is hurt some could purport that we are liable.  That’s our predicament.

“We’ve asked everyone to leave.  We’re not saying that no-one can protest. What we’re saying is we think it’s unwise for them to be on our land because of the risk of injury.  Given that we’ve asked them to go, if they don’t go we’ve asked the police to assist us – for their safety.

“If they set up the Embassy on the curb that’s fine.  I’m merely saying they should refrain from occupying our private land.  “At no time have we tried to prevent the protesters from making a statement but now someone has been hurt and we can’t afford that to happen again.”  Mr Harper said, despite rumours to the contrary, Cornerstone had not called in the police during the April 14 protest when demonstrators tried to stop contractors Deen Brothers clearing the land.

“Someone said that we organised all the police.  We didn’t. The Deen Brothers organised four police for the purpose of traffic control.   They were moving in heavy machinery.  So that was the only police that our contractors organised, the rest responded to their police calls.  So it wasn’t all organised by us.

“I don’t know how influential people think we are but I can’t stress more that we
respect people’s right to protest.  But we just ask that they respect our right to develop in accordance with the law.”

Mr Woodlands said the Platypus Embassy had attracted wide support and interest and protestors were determined to stay put.  “Not a day goes by without deliveries of fruit cake, scones, sandwiches, soup, fresh fruit and veges, jumpers and other warm winter woolies.  “This last weekend we had dozens of visitors from out of town, showing intrerest and expressing support for what we are doing.  Plus we have widespread local support.  We’re not just going to pack up and leave just because we’ve had a bit of criticism.

Daniel Jones says he's not budging

“This is a very unique situation and we’re all wanting a resolution as soon as possible.  “We’re making banners promoting what we want rather than what we don’t want and making the message a bit more positive.  Hopefully people won’t find these signs as confronting.”.

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.