Protesters 'tarnished our image'
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the publication of this article, police have confirmed that despite the initial reports below, protesters did not throw rocks at drivers. For more updated information, see this article.
TWEED mayor Joan van Lieshout says protesters against Repco Rally Australia tarnished Tweed's friendly image and made drivers feel unwelcome.
Cr van Lieshout said she went out of her way last Thursday to welcome the drivers and “most of all” invite them to enjoy the “warm and friendly people” of the Tweed.
But she felt protesters who allegedly threw rocks at cars, dropped boulders on roads and stepped in front of rally vehicles ruined her efforts.
Cr van Lieshout said she was disappointed that some rally drivers, including world champion Sebastien Loeb, announced they would prefer not to come back to the Tweed if people did not want the event here.
“It shows the drivers didn't feel welcome,” Cr van Lieshout said. “That's exactly what we didn't want to happen.”
Cr van Lieshout singled out rally opponent, Greens Party councillor Katie Milne, for criticism, saying she had missed the opportunity after rocks were allegedly thrown at cars to publicly tell protesters that was going too far.
Fellow councillor Warren Polglase said although “greenie activists” had damaged the region's reputation, in the long-term international television coverage of the area's scenic landscape would encourage visitors.