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July 20, 2024

Police make arrest over Wallum protests

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Save Wallum protectors, a NSW MLC and a retired magistrate have questioned the use of police resources after those supporting efforts to save rare ecological heathland in Brunswick Heads from urban development were contacted by Tweed-Byron Police Detectives.

In a statement by Save Wallum, they claim ‘up to a dozen individuals were contacted by police last weekend relating to alleged minor infringements that occurred weeks and months earlier’.  

Police confirmed one arrest was made.

For more than four months, Clarence Property have been forced to delay their residential development plans after local protectors blockaded the Wallum site. Save Wallum are calling on Federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, to ‘call the development in’ owing to the environmental and cultural significance of the site.

The action by police last weekend was condemned by solicitor Sue Higginson, who is also a NSW Greens MP, and former magistrate, David Heilpern.

Mr Heilpern told The Echo, ‘Police have discretion whether to investigate or institute criminal proceedings, even for minor, fine-only offences. However, arrest is a last resort, and the courts have consistently criticised police where they arrest unnecessarily’.

Deeply perturbed

‘I think the community, reeling with a property crime wave and struggling with under-policing of family violence, would be deeply perturbed at arresting people for minor offences where there are lots of different options such as just serving a court notice.

‘I think the community would also be curious as to why police are doing a developer’s bidding for such minor misdemeanors’.

The Echo asked local Detective Chief Inspector, Matt Kehoe, whether the arrests for trespass were a result of Clarence Property asking the police to prosecute.

Acting on complaints

DCI Kehoe told The Echo, ‘Police have worked with all stakeholders regarding the Save Wallum protest, including the Save Wallum group and Clarence Property. Investigations have been initiated and [are] ongoing from complaints received from all parties and one arrest was made over the weekend regarding alleged ongoing criminal acts’.

Clarence Property was asked for comment, but none was received by deadline.

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  1. That will do me – the comment from David Heilpern that the community is “reeling with a property crime wave” is exactly right. And its those that the Wallum protest has bought to our town that are committing the bulk of the crimes!!! Throw them out and keep them out.

  2. A reply to Brad – That is absolutely absurd, the good folk at Wallum are giving of their time, their livelihoods and costly supplies and are far from criminals. I think you are barking up the wrong tree there mate!

  3. The Protectors are legally supported. It is not a crime to peacefully protest. Together with a friend I supported/experienced Non Violent Direct Action workshops conducted by Wallum protectors. This philosophy has governed many important campaigns eg. Pine Gap 1983 and the Sydney Peace Movement demonstrations. Why is Byron Council allowing the Tax Payers money to be used in such a manner?

  4. With Australia at the forefront of the climate and biodiversity crisis, it really is short-sighted absurdity that keeps developments like these viable.

    Time to replace a greed with a liveable future.

  5. The Greenies rope in the same paid protesters for all their causes across the state and they share the same thing in common – disregard for the law. Good on police for making a stand. The local MP drumming up numbers for these protests has a lot to answer for!


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