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Issue #1603      July 24, 2013

McDonald’s protesters hit by writs

Protesters at the Tecoma McDonald’s site in the Dandenong Ranges say they have been slapped with Supreme Court writs demanding damages for delaying construction of the controversial development.

Garry Muratore, spokesman for the “No Maccas in Tecoma” group said two protesters were served last night and the document named eight individuals.

The injunction reportedly claims costs for security and building delays, in a move the protesters are labelling more “bully boy tactics” and corporate thuggery. “They have warned us off the site, they are claiming damages including delay costs and cost of security, which we have been told is costing $30,000 a week,” Mr Muratore said. “They are just thugs, it is just intimidation.”

The anti-Macca’s protester said they have dealt with weeks of intimidation including menace from private security hired by McDonald’s to guard the site. “During the first week we have guys in balaclavas saying ‘we will break your fingers and teeth when the police leave’,” he said.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Skye Oxenham said in a statement that the injunction was about safety. “We respect people’s right to protest provided they do so in a safe, peaceful and lawful manner,” she said. “In this case, we have needed to seek relief from the court so that we can safely build our restaurant in accordance with planning approval. This means removing those trespassing on the roof and those obstructing movement to and from the site.”

There has been no work on the site since July 3 when CFMEU union representatives removed workers, citing safety concerns. Protesters have been occupying the site and well-wishers have been supplying them with food, drinks and other supplies including a heater.

It comes as two native birds could be a further hurdle for the fast food outlet’s construction. Two spur-winged plovers have been spotted regularly at the site by birdwatchers, who believe they are ready to lay their eggs and nest there. All native birds are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal to kill birds, or to interfere with their nests containing eggs or young, without a permit or authority.

Criminal defence lawyer Rob Starry is currently meeting with protesters to decide where they will go from here, but Mr Muratore said they have had many offers of support from QCs and the business community. “We had a guy pull over outside the site this morning, in a business suit and tie … and say ‘here’s $250, stop the bastards, I’ll be back with more money and friends,’ it brought a tear to my eye,” Mr Muratore said.   

Next article – Protected action win at UWS

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