Following a comprehensive assessment process, Council has approved an application by the Bob Brown Foundation to hire Clermont’s showground to accommodate a stopover for its Stop Adani Convoy, subject to a range of stringent conditions.
Chief Executive Officer Gary Stevenson PSM said Council understood and appreciated that members of the Clermont and wider Isaac community may have strong feelings about this decision, given the intent of the convoy did not reflect prevailing community sentiment.
“However, the inevitable reality of the situation is that this convoy was and still is coming to Clermont regardless of an approval to use the local showgrounds or otherwise,” he said.
“For Council, this presented the significant question of how to effectively manage an influx of 500 to 800 people into Clermont with a view to minimising impact and disruption. We have absolutely sought to protect the interests of the local community throughout this process.
“Council concluded that the Clermont Showgrounds was the most suitable venue to accommodate convoy participants and this is certainly a more appropriate outcome than leaving people to set up camp anywhere.”
“It is also the most appropriate site based on advice from the Queensland Police Service in relation to managing a large gathering of this scale.”
As part of the application process, Mr Stevenson said Council had engaged in detailed discussions with convoy organisers regards their event to ensure it was within the capacity of the showgrounds.
“All applications to hire Council facilities are considered on their merits with consideration given to site capability, suitability of amenities, potential risks and impacts,” he said.
“The outcome of this process is that significant conditioning, consistent with requirements placed on any major event, has been imposed on their approval to use the showground.
“This includes a limit of 500 campers on-site overnight and 800 participants in total, a substantial bond to ensure any potential impacts to the site from such an event can be addressed at no cost to ratepayers, and specific provisions for public safety.”
In addition, Mr Stevenson said Council had been provided with assurances by the Bob Brown Foundation that the convoy was to be a peaceful and lawful gathering related only to its opposition to Adani’s project and not vegan protest issues.
“We have sought this undertaking and clarity of intent in response to community concern about the invasive nature of recent vegan activism in rural areas and past disruptive actions by anti-Adani protestors in areas such as Bowen,” he said.
Mr Stevenson said participants in the national convoy would arrive in Clermont on the afternoon of 27 April and depart on the morning of 29 April.
“Queensland Police Service have received and approved a Notice of Intent for convoy participants to undertake peaceful assembly in the Clermont area. Council cannot reasonably refuse such a request without having the matter considered before a magistrate,” he said.
“As a Council we need to take a measured and reasonable position, which includes acknowledging the right to peaceful assembly and protest.”
A request by convoy organisers to utilise Nebo’s showground as a rest stop was declined by Council as the venue was booked for a regional gymkhana, Mr Stevenson said.