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Burt and Cannonier clash over 2016 protest

  • A protester after being pepper-sprayed by police outside the House of Assembly (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Leaders of both political parties have traded punches over people who did not give evidence to a committee that examined a 2016 conflict between police and protesters

David Burt, the Premier, said a lack of co-operation from the police had “deprived” the public of the full details of the clash outside the House of Assembly.

Mr Burt said: “It is disturbing to learn that the police who we rely upon to enforce the laws of the land disregarded the law and failed to appear before the committee. The report speaks to serious differences in reported accounts of that day which could only be resolved by the police giving testimony like so many others did.”

“The shocking subtext of the report describes a government out of touch with the people, deliberately isolated from the advice of senior civil servants and engaged in clandestine discussions which seem to have led to these events.”

But Craig Cannonier, Leader of the Opposition, said Mr Burt should have been called to give evidence to the parliamentary joint select committee.

Mr Cannonier said: “As the then Leader of the Opposition, the Premier was present during the demonstration.

“It was also reported that Mr Burt sent an e-mail encouraging people to demonstrate outside the House.

“Why didn’t Mr Swan call him? Why indeed didn’t the Premier volunteer to attend? He had a front seat on the day.

“He was willing to take a lead in this demonstration, why didn’t he take the lead and take part in this investigation and volunteer information?”