18 March 2022

EPIC campsite closed as Capital Region braces for more camping protestors in the coming weeks

| Max O'Driscoll
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Protestors

The Convoy to Canberra protestors will not be able to camp at Exhibition Park this time around, with Venues Canberra announcing the site will be closed to campers for the remaining days of March. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The ACT Government has closed the Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) campsite for the rest of March in response to possible protest activity in the coming weeks. There is concern protestors will now look to new locations in the Capital Region for camping areas.

In a statement released yesterday (17 March), ACT Policing declared it was aware of people planning to travel to Canberra to participate in protest activity and warned them to secure accommodation before arriving in the ACT.

They revealed that with Venues Canberra closing the EPIC campsite for the remaining days of March, the ACT has limited camping availability with many sites at or near capacity. While declaring their support for peaceful protests, the police pleaded with protesters to make appropriate accommodation arrangements in advance of their arrival.

READ ALSO Police warn against illegal camping as online chatter indicates protesters will be back early

“Camping outside of a designated site in the ACT is an offence and campers will be asked to move on. Those who refuse to do so may be subject to fines and/or arrest,” the spokesperson said.

Protestors were moved on from EPIC last month after more than 10,000 people gathered to protest at Parliament House. The camping activity infamously led to the Lifeline Canberra book fair cancellation.

An ACT Government spokesperson said that EPIC has several major events on the horizon, including the National Folk Festival and Groovin the Moo. They stressed that camping could be available by request to guests of these events but would remain closed to the public for the time being.

“It is not unusual for Venues Canberra to close the EPIC campsite at this time of year to allow for preparation and maintenance for these major events,” wrote the spokesperson.

“It is important to note the protesters camping in EPIC during February were not camped in the formal campground but rather in the event precinct, which is not a designated camping site.

“Campers are reminded that they must only set up in designated and available camping sites.”

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Region Media reported on Wednesday (16 March) that the ‘freedom’ protesters were planning a “massive protest” this weekend with a candlelight vigil in Glebe Park, music on the Parliament House lawns and a barbecue at Henry Rolland Park. They’re also expected to return for the release of the Federal Budget on 29 March.

With the ACT’s other campsites nearing capacity, the police suspect protestors would look to the surrounding region for camping areas.

Some of those surrounding areas include the Queanbeyan-Palerang and the Yass Valley.

A Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council spokesperson said that the council was already aware of properties being targeted by campers seeking accommodation in the region after being moved on from EPIC. Council staff are currently investigating instances where this has occurred.

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A Yass Valley Council spokesperson suggested that there were expecting a large number of protestors seeking accommodation in the Yass Valley due to the closure of EPIC.

They revealed that their rangers would be patrolling recreational areas for illegal camping and working with police in moving people on who don’t comply with their rules.

“We would like to remind protestors that Murrumbateman Recreation Grounds are not approved for camping and that police moved protestors on from the area last time,” wrote the spokesperson.

“We also remind protestors that Yass Showground is not operated by us and is closed this weekend due to Yass Show.”

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John Anderson4:59 pm 20 Mar 22

They do understand that EPIC has the only Caravan toilet dump point in the ACT. Not sure where they expect self sufficient caravans to dump their business now. Answer is they probably wont come. Could have at least kept that little part accessible.

Trying to stop the anti mandate protesters by banning them from camping at the main public campsite is wrong.
People in a democratic society who believe in human rights and freedom of speech and are educated about ethics and guided by Western ideals, hold the view that ‘I disagree with what you say, but will fight for your right to say it’.
When you deny others the right to say what you think is wrong, you also risk losing the right to say what you think is right.

Did you read the article”

An ACT Government spokesperson said that EPIC has several major events on the horizon, including the National Folk Festival and Groovin the Moo. They stressed that camping could be available by request to guests of these events but would remain closed to the public for the time being.

“It is not unusual for Venues Canberra to close the EPIC campsite at this time of year to allow for preparation and maintenance for these major events,” wrote the spokesperson.

“It is important to note the protesters camping in EPIC during February were not camped in the formal campground but rather in the event precinct, which is not a designated camping site.

“ People ….[elided for brevity]…. hold the view that ‘I disagree with what you say, but will fight for your right to say it’.
This trivial formulation of some important principles passes only the simpler tests. Should I fight for your right to deceive, defame, threaten, as examples? Should I listen to the terminally irrational again and again, as if repetition of error made truth?

This is absolutely disgusting behaviour by the ACT government to shut down camping facilities (open to all people) just because they don’t agree with the political views of potential protesters. The ACT government should realise Canberra is the capital of the country and was designed so that people have a right to come to Canberra and protest about any cause they feel passionate about. I guess the ACT government looks to North Korea and communist countries for inspiration about how to treat citizens whose political views they don’t agree with.

North Korea? You must be joking!! No one is interring protestors in prison camps, nor denying anyone the right to legally protest. Illegal protests include, breaking the law, disturbing the peace and damaging property. Canberra is a city the size of 460,000 people – when the available accommodation is full – it’s full. That’s just tough – human effluent can be difficult to manage when there’s too much of it

Typical dictatorial behaviour of the ACT government, showing its intolerant and arrogant nature by trying to ban and exclude people who have opinions it disagrees with. The ACT government also ignores and shuts out residents who express dissenting opinions on trams, apartments and DAs. Consultation is a farce. Now intolerance and the stiffling of dissent has become a feature of this claimed progressive but in reality regressive anti-democratic Greens Labor clique.

Trevor Willis6:09 pm 18 Mar 22

As per usual, a majority of the population suffers because of the selfish actions of a minority

How is the majority of the population suffering exactly? Get some accomodation – don’t camp where there’s no facilities or permission.

Quote marks doing a lot of heavy lifting in the “massive protest” line above.

And yet, IF they are protesting against vaccine mandates by the State governments, and I recall they are. Doesn’t this make them look as dumb as posts?! 🙂

Trevor Willis6:11 pm 18 Mar 22

I think that most posts are much brighter and more useful than these fools

There are many Federal mandates that they are protesting about. You do realise unvaccinated people still cannot travel to parts of Australia (which is a Federal Constitutional issue) and still cannot leave Australia (again, Federal issue). The Australian government (Federal) is the one that has signed international treaties agreeing not to force/coerce citizens into taking any drugs. These are all Federal government human rights issues. Maybe see who you are calling ‘dumb’ because you don’t sound very bright with uneducated comments like that.

In respect to unvaccinated people being denied the right to leave Australia, are there many countries that allow unvaccinated people to travel to their country?

Could be that our unvaccinated people don’t have a lot of choice about where they travel to?

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