Member for Gippsland South and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan has demanded the Brumby Government explain why it has authorised a multinational consortium to spy on local residents protesting against the Wonthaggi desalination plant.
Mr Ryan said revelations John Brumby had employed police, private security firms and international consortium AquaSure to spy on Gippsland residents were deeply concerning.
“The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition obtained a section of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between AquaSure, Victoria Police and the Brumby Government which shows the government has been spying on protestors,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Brumby Government has given AquaSure, a private multinational consortium, the green light to gather intelligence on desalination protestors.
“This is intimidation and bullying at its worst and exposes the culture of thuggery within John Brumby’s Government.
“Any information gathered on protestors by the government or private security firms must be destroyed.
“Local communities have a right to be very concerned about the way this information has been collected, how it has been stored and how it will be used.”
Mr Ryan said Gippsland residents had been targeted by the Brumby Government’s surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations simply because they had dared to disagree with government policy.
“The MOU floats the idea of AquaSure, the police and the Department of Sustainability and Environment carrying out a joint operation on people who have been identified through intelligence ‘to be involved in organising or conducting protest action’.
“It even sanctions the involvement of Victoria Police’s frontline anti-terrorism unit, the Protective Security Intelligence Group, and shows the Brumby Government has a strategy to gather intelligence on protesters before demonstrations have taken place.
“There’s something very wrong in Victoria when local communities are subject to this sort of bullying and intimidation from a government.” Mr Ryan said.