Has Arrow Energy bought the Qld police force?

On Thursday, a rather chatty police officer told me something that I found quite shocking.

Just spent a couple of days at the community blockade of Arrow Energy’s CSG exploration drill site at Kerry, Qld, near Beaudesert.  It was a real community gathering – all ages, kids playing in a temporary sandpit, supporters bringing an amazing smorgasbord of food (including a gobsmacking array of home-cooked cakes, scones and biscuits) and chairs/rainshelters/newspapers/books.   There’s a buzz of animated discussion, and every now and then people got up to give impromptu performances of poems, stories and songs (even F and I had a go).

These were some of the police vehicles inside the Arrow compound.

These were some of the police vehicles inside the Arrow compound.

In contrast to this scene of community harmony, there was an enormous (and dare I say, unnecessary) police presence.  I counted 10 police vehicles, with accompanying police officers, and 3 mounted police, with horses.  And I wasn’t even there when the real action was happening.

These were some of the ones parked outside.  There's more outside the shot - including an ATV as well as vehicles and trailers for three horses.

These were some of the ones parked outside. There's more outside the shot - including an ATV as well as vehicles and trailers for three horses.

One of the people at the blockade said they had called the local police one morning, and were told that there was no-one available to help them because all the police were at the blockade! (aka the community picnic-with-a-message)

Now, overdoing the police presence at a peaceful community gathering is one thing, but here’s the bigger thing:

Two separate police officers told us that Arrow was paying for them to be there.  What?  I mean, … what?

Here is why this is a problem:

  • if there is confusion about who the police are acting for (is it the taxpayers?  is it the mining company?), it blurs the line between mining industry and state.
  • if Arrow did hire the police,
  • it reduces the pool of police available for legitimate duties, like helping the public
  • having the police service available for hire by corporate interests effectively gives corporations access to a trained mercenary army.  How did we let this happen?
  • by wearing their police uniforms, the police imply to the public that the work they are doing is sanctioned by the police force and the state.  It demonstrates that state approval is available to whoever can pay for it.
Here are some more police at the blockade.  You can see the butterflies made out of Lock The Gate signs that decorate the blockade rainshelters.

Here are some more police at the blockade. You can see the butterflies made out of Lock The Gate signs that decorate the blockade rainshelters.

I’m in the process of chasing official confirmation of the unofficial police statements about being paid by Arrow.  No-one seems to be able to say yet which police have been bought by Arrow, and which police are actually working for the Australian people.  But here is why I am taking seriously those unofficial reports:

Police inside the locked Arrow compound

Police officers guarding the arrow compound. Has Arrow Energy bought these police officers with the blessing of the Qld government? NB I had a little ironic chuckle when I saw the gate was...well...locked. Lock the gate!

  • two independent police officers told two separate people (including me), on two different days that Arrow was paying for police to be at the drilling site.
  • Apparently, it’s common practice for event organisers to pay for police presence at their events.  Arrow hiring the police to act as security guards could well be possible under this scheme.
  • Unless Arrow was paying, you’d think at least one officer would have been allocated to help the public (who, under normal circumstances, fund them).  Instead, the poor person who called them for assistance was left stranded.

Goodness.  This all just keeps on getting more frightening.  Do I sound paranoid?  I really hope that’s all it is.

Quote for the season: “We often feel like hapless atoms, running endlessly according to the blueprints and programs of unseen masters, whether it’s the banking industry, Madison Avenue, whoever. We tend to disempower ourselves. We tend to believe that we don’t matter. And in the act of taking that idea to ourselves we give everything away to somebody else, to something else.”
Terence McKenna

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13 Responses to Has Arrow Energy bought the Qld police force?

  1. Rick Wagner says:

    It certainly is a concern. I found it very confusing when told that police on site could be there acting in three caatorgories. First as normal police ,Second as off duty police being paid by Arrow and wearing their police uniforms and thirdly not wearing their police uniforms and acting as security officers. I find it hard to beleive that off duty police wearing uniforms would be allowed and I wonder how they were recruited for the tasl and how they would be paid, Would they be paid direct by aArrow or indirectly by the Police. IT is all very confusing and certainly needs clarification as to whether it is happening or not and how it is administererd and what rights do those off duty police have. OR is it now necessary to request police to state at the time they may have to address a member of the public for whom they are working or whom they are employed by . Really confusing in my opinion

  2. Nita says:

    HI Yes it is common practice for event organisers to hire police for events. They are called ‘Specials’ and things like roadworks, sporting events etc are covered. I believe they still have the same powers to act as when they are rostered on to normal shifts. I can’t tell you how many of the local guys were there but I do know that the few great cops we do have are overworked and can often not respond to locals because there is a general staff shortage. Amazing that when the police force wants cops out here we can find them hey?? By the way Specials are paid at a very inflated hourly rate that the police officers often have to wait weeks to be paid.

  3. Alan Roberts says:

    Thanks Sarah. Very important issue. It seemed common knowledge by Fri 20 Jan 2012 at the blockade that Arrow was paying $17000/day for cops.
    And it seemed that the cops themselves knew who was in Arrow’s pocket (well paycheck) and who was being paid by the state. The Greek cop with the glasses declared that he wasn’t being paid by Arrow (he was buying a 2nd house on Crete). The cops that were paid by Arrow I think, identified themselves by parroting Arrow’s talking points about the benefits of gas.
    I hope to get an FOI on Arrow’s arrangement with the cops before my court case on the 8Feb.
    It would be good if you wrote a letter to the Qld police commissioner with your concerns Sarah.

    All the best,
    Alan

  4. Pingback: Has Arrow Energy bought the Qld police force? | Coal Seam Gas Australia

  5. brian monk says:

    It puts the action of the police at one of the blockades up here in context. I repeatedly asked how the police could force the protestors over 100meters away from the pipeline construction. The protestors had permission from the owner to be on the land, the police did not, as I was led to believe. The police officer in charge stated that was a matter to be taken up with his seniors. He made no judgement on the issue, as he would not if he was infact employed by QGC(British Gas)?????? He was also transported to the site in a British Gas Vehicle. At another protest the police were clearly fed by British Gas. At that and the above mentioned protest there was a ridiculous number of police, clearly there to intimidate, not to enforce the law, a tenth of the number could have done that. Included were the Tacticle Response Group, the Mounted Police, the Dog Squad, the Stock Squad including motor bikes, and probably every local active police officer. So if in fact our Governments are in business with multi-nationals it all makes sense. But where is the line in the sand, is there one, or do they clearly do anything the companies request. And I aggree, can we be charged with disobeying a police directive when in fact it is a company directive and the people wearing the police uniform are in fact out of uniform, they should be wearing a company uniform, and only have the powers of a company employee. But sadly Annagass has made the police Law (Legislation) enforcement officers, not peace keepers. In all good dictatorships these subtle changes took place in the early stages, so Carbon newman can now asume the role of dictator, people of this fine land be very warned.

  6. Jarrah says:

    I’m starting a security business so we protestors can have armed security to protect us from the hired thugs we used to call police…

  7. Susan Benham says:

    This is not only improper but unlawful, I’d be sure. I’d be happy to write letters – perhaps to the QLD Premier to start with?

    The thoughts, concern and spirit of many people in the Illawarra Stop Coal Seam Gas Mining group are with you.

    kind regards,
    Sue Benham

  8. Sarah says:

    Hi All,

    Sorry haven’t had access to internet for a week after I posted this – have been flooded in, with inoperational dial-up, so only now getting around to checking comments. Thanks all for the extra info and thoughts. Not sure where to start making a proper fuss about this, but as a first step, letters to the Qld Commissioner of Police (as Alan suggested) and Qld Premier (as Sue suggested), plus the Beaudesert MP (Aidon McLindon, I think?) couldn’t hurt. Also, letters to the editor in newspapers.

    Does anyone know if this stuff happens in NSW?

  9. Herbert says:

    Like everything else you are protesting about, you are misinformed and just plain wrong. Keep stirring the pot, because your arguments lack substance. Watch one movie about a different practice with different chemicals in North America and you are all experts.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Herbert,

      I’m sorry if this comes across as a little narky, but do you think that people opposed to CSG mining are really that simple? All the people, making all the websites, writing all the submissions, going to all the blockades, phoning all the newspapers and politicians, are really doing this based on watching “Gasland”? That’s a pretty condescending assumption.

      If you click on this link:

      http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/e10c0cfa1c673157ca25790d0026514c/$FILE/Submission%200348.pdf

      you can download the Kyogle GAG submission to the NSW Upper House inquiry into CSG.

      If you take the time to read it, you will notice that it contains dozens of references to dozens of independent reports, articles and eyewitness statements. “Gasland” certainly alerted us to the environmental dangers associated with unconventional gas mining, but it was our months of in-depth further research that galvanised us into serious community action. Try it for yourself.

      (Click here for all the other submissions to the inquiry. Please read them before you decide we’re making a big fuss about nothing.)

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