Protesters squeeze Mackay police resources
AN INCREASING number of activists travelling to a protest camp at a key North Queensland port from NSW have been branded "idiots" by a frustrated Mackay inspector.
Inspector Steve O'Connell's comments come as a small contingent of Mackay police officers are deployed to help their counterparts in Bowen.
He said it was a drain on police resources.
The protest actions to date at Bowen and Collinsville have been handled by the local officers.
"However, this past week we have become aware that there was additional people from the Byron Bay and Mullumbimby area at the [Bogie River] protester camp site," he said.
Insp O'Connell said officers from Mackay district have been sent to deal with the approximately 50 protesters on a needs basis.
"It's not like we've established a big taskforce of people up in Bowen, it's just that we've provided some additional officers to backfill while we're dealing with protest action," he said.
"For every officer hour we've lost dealing with unlawful activity by the protesters, we are diverted away from, what police consider, much more important issues such as crime, domestic violence, and road safety in our community."
Insp O'Connell said five protesters were arrested on Friday for chaining themselves to machinery.
Five different protesters were arrested the week before for the same reason.
Police officers in Bowen are now equipped with specialist cutting tools.
Insp O'Connell said it was frustrating for police when activists attach themselves to equipment.
"It's hot fatiguing work for the officers."