Incident galvanises tent embassy resolve

From The 40th Aboriginal Tent Embassy - Canberra 26th January, 2012 (TR Transcript)

We wish to make it known that we are appalled at the brutal behaviour that the Federal Police and the Australian Security Service handed out to the Prime Minister that caused her to lose her shoe. We extend an invitation to the Prime Minister of Australia to attend the New Aboriginal Parliament to receive her lost shoe ... we are not a nation of thieves! We hope that in a gesture of good will, the Prime Minister will respond to the high court and start looking at the issues that effect Aboriginal people.

Sam Rigney HeraldSun 27 January 2012

More protests are planned from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, Darkinjung land council leader Sean Gordon has warned.

Mr Gordon was one of about 200 protesters "on the front line" trapping Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott inside the Lobby Restaurant in Canberra for about 30minutes yesterday.

He said the peaceful protest had became a chaotic riot after Ms Gillard refused to address angry tent embassy protesters.

The situation could have been avoided had Ms Gillard spoken to the gathering or refuted an "arrogant" claim made by Mr Abbott, he said.

"We all turned up here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tent Embassy," Mr Gordon said.

"All morning had been really good, it was an emotional day and we were talking about the history of the Tent Embassy.

"But what was really disappointing was that Tony Abbott came out in a statement and said that he'd like to see the Tent Embassy 'move on'.

"Then he had the arrogance to go to a restaurant not 200metres away from where we were camped."

Mr Gordon, the chief executive officer of Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council on southern Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast, said word got back to the group that Mr Abbott and Ms Gillard were at the restaurant to present the inaugural National Emergency Medals.

"We went down there to question Tony Abbott as to why he would release such a stupid statement and the Prime Minister as to why she wouldn't reject or refute it," he said.

"We were vocal but peaceful outside the building and wanted Ms Gillard to come out and address the crowd but instead she called in the riot squad and was escorted out the side door.

"When you've got people in riot gear and others who are emotional things are bound to get a bit chaotic."

Mr Gordon said the incident made it clear to the people gathered that they "had a long way to go" in their struggle to be recognised in the Australian Constitution.

Mr Gordon said that supporters of the tent embassy would remain outside Old Parliament House in Canberra for the rest of the week.

"This incident today has only unified us and galvanised us in our fight," he said.

"I've had calls all day from people congratulating us for what we did and we're expecting people to come from all over NSW tomorrow to join us."