Police evacuate aboriginal protest camp in Perth

2015-03-14 06:30
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott holding his fighting boomerang while talking to an Aboriginal performer at the opening of the 44th Parliament in Canberra. (Mark Graham, AFP)

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott holding his fighting boomerang while talking to an Aboriginal performer at the opening of the 44th Parliament in Canberra. (Mark Graham, AFP)

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Sydney - Police in Perth on Friday began clearing a protest camp set up by Aboriginal people who oppose a government plan to close 150 of their 282 remote communities in Western Australian.

Scores of protesters have been at the camp at Heirisson Island on the Swan River since the start of the month, when they declared the site a refuge for Aboriginals - Australia's first inhabitants - who will be rendered homeless.

Broadcaster ABC said there were emotional scenes as police and city council workers arrived to evacuate the area. The protesters had been given a second deadline of noon Friday to move, the report said.

The forced evacuation of the camp came two days after Prime Minister Tony Abbott provoked anger when defended the plan by saying the government could not "endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices."

Leaders from the Aboriginal community came down hard on Abbott, over the remarks they said were hopeless, ignorant and dismissive of the deep connections indigenous people have to the land.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said cost cutting was behind the plan that was announced last year.

People could still visit their traditional lands and live there if they wished but taxpayers would no longer foot the bill for power, water, cleaning and waste disposal, he told the PerthNow website.

Some 2.4% of Australia's population of some 23 million is indigenous. They lag behind the rest of society in most measures of development.

Read more on:    tony abbott  |  australia

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