BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS
Campaigners trying to save Millers Point from privatisation at Barangaroo have told City Hub that multiple guards “descended” on them last Saturday, November 1 while they were gathering outside a celebratory picnic at the Barangaroo Reserve.
The campaigners were told they were not allowed to write on the footpath, or distribute their paper planes to passers-by.
According to the Barangaroo website, the series of Sunday picnics “celebrates a different theme – stone, sea and sky – to honour the history of the place, its people and their aspirations”.
November’s month was the celebration of ‘sky’. The Millers Point campaigners chose to hand out paper planes with messages written on them.
“Celebrate the Sky; Make a Sky Plane; Aim High in the Sky; Save the Millers Point Community,” read the planes.
The Save Millers Point Facebook page said that half a dozen security officers stopped the group campaigning.
“We were not to hand out material outside Barangaroo, and we were not to chalk the word ‘Community’ outside Barangaroo,” the post read.
“Head of security for Barangaroo said we had to get permission from the state government before handing out information or paper planes outside Barangaroo, where the signs say Hello Neighbour. Who are these signs for?”
Campaigner John Donne told City Hub that he found the security “heavy-handed”.
“A security guard collected names, and then he put them into his system,” he said.
Mr Donne said that he did not understand why it would be against the rules to distribute the paper planes on the footpath, outside the gates of Barangaroo Reserve.
“To me, I thought we were getting on alright with Barangaroo.”
“They made sure there was no more chalk being put on the footpath, and then they sent the young cleaner out to sponge it off,” he said.
Margaret Bishop, who was also amongst the campaigners, said that it was strange there were so many security personnel.
“We are out on the footpath, there must have been something up because there was quite a lot of security around,” Ms Bishop said.
She said that she loved the development of the parkland, and despite the picnic controversy, the campaigners had a good working relationship with the park.
“We love the reserve, we think it is beautiful, and involving the arts is wonderful. We’re not a threat to them, we’re giving out little planes, and trying to get people to sign a petition, we got a really fabulous response from the general public,” she said.
“We try and do things in a light hearted way. We were doing it with a lovely smile.”
A spokesperson for the Barangaroo Delivery Authority said that one security member “politely requested” the campaigners to move away from the entrance, as the pathway needed to be clear for other visitors. “At no time were the Save Millers Point members asked to stop from handing out their flyers,” the spokesperson said.
” As the roads and place management authority, we are responsible for the safe entry and exit of people visiting Barangaroo Reserve. Of the three main entrances to Barangaroo Reserve, this has the narrowest entry and exit points and is also adjacent to the main bus stop for the Reserve – clear, flowing footpaths are especially important on major event days such as this, with thousands of people passing through.”
“The security team member politely requested that they move away from the entrance to allow access to visitors. As part of our standard operating procedure for an event of this scale, there were also two security staff and two event personnel located at this entrance greeting arrivals – they did not engage with the Save Millers Point members.”
“At no time were the Save Millers Point members asked to stop from handing out their flyers.”
“As the Authority is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the footpath and road one of our cleaners later removed the chalk writing from the footpath.”