Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

wa2013.vote-wars.info ~ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

iT Matters Fracking

Anti-fracking activists versus Stirling Council

source Socialist Alliance

Local activist Trish McAuliffe has had a run-in with the Stirling City Council in Perth's northern suburbs over a banner on her property advertising a public meeting about gas fracking.

McAuliffe is a member of grassroots campaign group No Fracking Way and put up a hand-painted banner on her own property that said “Fracking = pollution”. The sign also gave details for a public meeting organised by the Clean Water Healthy Land alliance featuring a speaker from the Lock the Gate Alliance.

No Fracking Sign

A representative of the Stirling City Council told Green Left that their action was taken in response to a complaint. “The City is required to follow up any complaints made by residents,” she said.

Further, the council representative told Green Left that the sign may fall under the category of “Community Service Signs” in which case it may not need a development approval. However, if development approval were required, a $139 fee would have to be paid and a turn around time – which could be as long as 20 days – could not be guaranteed.

The banner was put up eight days before the public meeting it was advertising. It is not clear that the banner would meet the definition of a Community Service Sign and the council could not point to another remedy within their bylaws.

McAuliffe has complained that this is an example of “bureaucracy gone mad” and “an attack on freedom of speech” saying that she's had three different stories from the ranger, a planning officer and the senior ranger that she has dealt with.

McAuliffe has re-erected her banner because she believes that people have a right to know about the dangers of gas fracking.

This incident follows the free speech campaign waged last year in Perth against Perth City Council by-laws that make it an offence to hold a hand-held sign without approval of the Council. While the by-laws were not changed and one court case is still outstanding, activists have won the right in practice to organise speak-out protests, hold signs and set up campaign stalls without interference by the Council.

The #wa2013vote website will be kept online so politicians promises and statements can be checked until the end of next WA election in 2017, and after.