Protesters corralled at spring festival

SOME animal welfare activists protesting against the rodeo at the Lugarno Lions Spring Festival last Sunday have questioned the strategy which confined them to an entrance gate, keeping them away from the action.

The protest organiser, Animal Liberation, had obtained a police permit for a main gate at Gannons Park where the 30 or so demonstrators held posters and distributed flyers.

This was a distance from the main arena where the contentious Hurstville Council-sponsored rodeo was being held.

The hundreds watching riders being thrown off bucking bulls would have seen only one protest sign if they had looked in that direction.

That was Peter Mahoney's "Animal! Abuse!" poster.

Mr Mahoney had broken ranks with the others to ensure his point was made at the scene.

"As a resident I am amazed that the council has allowed this animal cruelty," he said.

"After so many mistakes they have made over four years, this takes the cake."

Eventually another five or six protesters headed towards the rodeo arena but were stopped by police because they were out of their permitted area.

Animal activist Sylvia Raye said they were threatened with arrest if they did not put away their posters.

"It was ridiculous that a group of mature age people with posters would be arrested," she said.

Phillip Hall from Animal Liberation said they had chosen to make their protest at the gate where there was the most foot traffic.

He said pedestrians had been very receptive to their posters and flyers.

‘‘People are not happy about this; a Sydney suburb is no place for a rodeo and animals are not for our entertainment,’’ Mr Hall said.

Michelle Alber from Sydney Pet Rescue and Adoption said it was a concern that there had been no public consultation about the event.

She said rodeos should be banned, as in the ACT and various parts of the world. A country music talent quest or a cooking competition would have been better rural themes.

Jeanette Akkanen from Free the Bears, which was trying to stop animal abuse in Third World, said cruelty was promoted here.

Former Hurstville councillor Anne Wagstaff said: ‘‘When I saw the spurs on the riders’ boots at first hand I was upset and disturbed.’’

People watching the horse and bull events did not seem to be aware of the protesters.

A group of young people from nearby Lugarno said they had no problem with the event.

‘‘I don’t like bullfights like they have in Spain, where they stab the bull, but rodeos are OK,’’ Daniel said.

Hurstville mayor Steve McMahon said the rodeo had apparently been very well received.

‘‘It came out better than I thought it would,’’ he said.

What did you think of the rodeo section of the festival?

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