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Aug 1, 2013

Leaked notes show Macca’s wants search and rescue cops to end protest

Leaked notes from McDonald's management show the fast food giant is liaising with police to bring in a search and rescue team to end a protest at a controversial Victorian restaurant site.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist


Leaked internal notes from McDonald’s reveal the fast food peddlers are liaising with police to dispatch its elite Search and Rescue team to remove protesters from a planned restaurant site at Tecoma in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges.

As Crikey‘s deadline approached today, rumours were swirling that police would move on the site this afternoon to disperse protesters, including one perched on the roof of building set to be razed to build the controversial store. Demolition planned for yesterday was delayed on account of the roof dweller.

The notes, believed to be written by McDonald’s workplace safety manager Bob Dunger and obtained by Crikey, detail the scene at the Tecoma site on Monday. They show Dunger called Belgrave Police Senior Sergeant Doug Berglund first thing and that Berglund was negotiating with protesters. They say a police “inspector” needs to approve the deployment of the Search and Rescue team. Names of protesters and a mobile number for McDonald’s Victorian development manager Ken Pryor are listed.

They also reveal the need to make an “informed decision” on an “asbestos report”. The substance needs to be removed by contractor BR Demolition before existing buildings on the site can be cleared. It is noted BR Demolition boss Bernie Rafferty was “picketed at home” on Saturday by protesters.

Berglund, who is in charge of the police operation, confirmed to Crikey this morning the “Bob” in question, who has been spotted onsite this morning, worked for McDonald’s. A McDonald’s spokesperson later told Crikey the man was Dunger, a former NSW police officer. The spokesperson said he was present “to make sure the site is safe and secure”.

Victoria Police receive free or discounted McDonald’s from most Victorian stores.

The rare insight into the global conglomerate’s internal workings show how the company has deployed enormous corporate resources to ensure construction goes ahead, despite the vociferous backlash from community groups including No McDonald’s in the Dandenong Ranges and website Burger Off!. A PR war is also raging with Dunger making references to 3AW host Neil Mitchell’s coverage of the dispute.

Two weeks ago, Crikey revealed the wide-ranging court order temporarily outlawing the occupation and “calls to arms” on social media, along with various affidavits and writs lodged by McDonald’s. A senior lawyer for Norton Rose, Zoe Justice, had raked through every media mention of the dispute to identify protesters, with lawyers attempting to serve the so-called “Tecoma Eight” with representative writs that extend to the broader group. They show that the average McDonald’s restaurant rakes in $10,000 a day. If activists breach the order, they are liable to be arrested and charged. Last week, McDonald’s CEO Catriona Noble bizarrely claimed on Rafael Epstein’s ABC 774 radio show that she was “not aware” of the order.

The case will return to the Supreme Court next week, with law firm Maurice Blackburn preparing to lodge documents on behalf of the protesters.

The Tecoma stoush has escalated ever since a local council decision to reject the store was overturned on appeal by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last October.

A photograph of the internal notes — read the transcript of the notes

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28 thoughts on “Leaked notes show Macca’s wants search and rescue cops to end protest

  1. zut alors

    I suggest a search and rescue mission be launched at all McDonald’s outlets in a bid to uncover traces of nutrition.

  2. Simon Mansfield

    If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. But to try and stop a legal business operating a food shop is just out there in la la land. Where does this I-don’t-like-that-type-of-shop thinking start and end.

    I can think of all sorts of shops/businesses that various interest groups don’t like and would try and stop if given half a chance. Would be interesting to know what the immunization rates are among the Tecoma 8 families.

    This is just middle class gesture politics on steroids – with a unhealthy dose of slippy slope politics added in to add a nasty edge to it.

    That the Fitzroy Collective’s Afternoon Herald is all over this with the biased reporting is hardly surprising. Maybe BK can knock some sense into the Crikey HQ.

    The real issue is not the store itself but the self appointed green shirts and the nasty politics they so often bring to local communities.

  3. Mike Smith

    @Zut: I fear such a search will be fruitless. (pun would be intended)

  4. paddy

    ROTFL I seriously *love* that photo of “the notes”.

    I also have dreams about how delicious it would be, if the protesters actually managed to stop Maccas building at Tecoma.
    (Shades of McLibel?)

  5. jack linsey

    “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.” could be extended to everything good and bad.
    The fact is there is a conflict of interest between the police and McDonalds and why this has been allowed in all states is a mystery.

    The police should recuse themselves from the entire matter as they would have to in a legal dispute.

  6. Mike Smith

    @Simon: Just what do immunization rates have to do with McDonalds? Or is it ‘playing the man’ on those concerned?

  7. Venise Alstergren

    SIMON MANSFIELD: Clearly you don’t live next to a MacShop. I wish you did because you might have some sympathy for the protesters. I spent ten years living in a bull pen, fighting against bottle shops, night clubs, non-stop doof doof stuff, greedy developers, and soulless government bods, so I know what it is like. I even had a major victory against a grog shop which was masquerading as a small tavern. Unheard of because VCAT always find in favour of liquor licences.

    Just for a start I suggest that one night late you drive into a Maccas car park. Turn off your headlights then wait for your first sighting of feral rats. At the same time wind down your window so that you may enjoy the sounds of drunken hoons making merry at two o’clock in the morning. Condoms-used- will be thrown into the gardens of the nearest residents and empty syringes will end up just where small children and pets are walking.

    I imagine, in your closeted life, you aren’t aware of life in the dark lane. You should try it before wishing it on someone else.

    Perhaps the residents weren’t aware, initially, that it was going to become a MacDonalds? Well, they’re making up for it, and I hope the residents win.

  8. Dean Williams

    @Simon Mansfield: I think if a community comes together to say no on an issue, then that collective opinion should be respected. Just because something is “legal”, does not mean it’s the best thing for the community, the decision should ultimately be up to them.

    Belgrave, a neighbouring town, also successfully rejected a similar development years ago. People who live in these towns put a lot of effort into to keeping them as they are. If most residents of Tecoma do not want a McDonalds, yet the law is undermining what they want just because “it’s legal”, then I think in this case the law is failing the community.

  9. Cathi Alice

    I am shocked that Victoria Police receive free or discounted McDonalds. As a former Federal Public Servant we NEVER would have accepted gifts or benefits.

    I would expect the same levels of integrity from the Victorian Police.

  10. Sean Court

    Really Simon Mansfield. C’mon read your own guff and tell me what’s wrong with it.