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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.



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.

  11. kate altizer

    McDonalds better rethink this plan to have a tax payer funded Search and Rescue Squad physically remove protesters from the site. They will only serve to magnify their already tarnished image. This action would certainly insure McDonalds becomes the poster child for greedy corporations abusing undemocratic planning laws. Instead, they should take head of the outcry from the general public, that to go against the community’s wishes, is plain wrong. The court of public opinion says you are guilty as charged, McDonalds. Why not take the opportunity in the face if this PR crisis to do the right thing, and give the community its say, and simply walk away? You could be the hero instead of the villain.

  12. Serenatopia

    Tecoma is a precious, lovely spot…of home-grown vegetables and the freshest organic produce…their local Maxi’s stocks the most exotic organic produce from all corners of the world and supports locally made, jams, cakes, pickled vegies, honey, mustards and everything in between!

    This is a town of natvia-covered love…and the people have spoken…

    If McDonalds proceeds with the plan to build against the wishes of the community, then their battle has just begun…

    Interestingly—the richer suburbs of Brighton and Sandringham in Melbourne have banned any large take-away food store in the vicinity…that’s right money can buy you lots of things—council support, VCAT support, Court support and not to mention law enforcement…it can even buy off bad burgers—-but that’s only if you’re filthy rich…not if you’re a hippie!

  13. Pipersue

    Thanks Serenatopia, exactly right! That’s it. People with scads of cash can afford their democratic rights, others have to make themselves heard and risk the condescending opinions of a Simon Mansfield.

  14. Professor Tournesol

    MuckDonalds are calling in their favours for years of ‘free hamburgers’. Vic Police are discovering that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Why any business would want to open in an area where they clearly aren’t wanted is another question worthy of a Crikey article.

  15. Electric Lardyland

    Perhaps, instead of enlisting the police to do their dirty work, maybe McDonalds management should try moving the protesters themselves. To protect their identity, I suggest that they all don Ronald McDonald suits before making their charge. It should make for an entertaining spectacle on the TV news bulletins.

  16. Simon Mansfield

    The argument that because a so called majority of a specific community can get to decide who operates a business or not – is bogus on so many levels. But I’ll just go for the most obvious example – abortion clinics.

    All across the US – there are local communities who have taken over local and state govts with the express purpose of banning abortion clinics from operating. In most of these cases they have achieved the appearance of majority community support. The question for the anti Macca crowd – is that an acceptable expression of grass roots community democracy.

    The bottom line is that the anti-Maccas debate is about the imposition of personal cultural values using personal opinions dressed up as facts. And while we might all be entitled to our own opinion we aren’t entitled to our own facts.

  17. Matt Hardin

    I am pro choice but I respect the rights of a small community to decide that they do not want an abortion clinic in their area.

    In the case of the Tecoma McDonalds, I understand that there is another down the road for people who want to buy their burgers. Why are insisting on trying to be where they are obviously not wanted?

  18. Simon Mansfield

    So the busy bodies of a small community can decide who is allowed to operate a legal business – be it an abortion clinic or a MacDonalds.

    But in a larger community it’s not ok and broader definitions of democracy would apply – ie the law of the state or nation.

    So what defines a small community – 1,000 households or 10,000 households, and who decides who gets to decide – ratepayers, the full time employed, people with a degree. Or just those that agree with whatever value system the loudest are seeking to impose.

    As is so often the case – the whole meme that the community does not want it is a bogus construct. It’s a self selecting process where the self appointed green shirts force themselves into the centre of an issue and then create the false construct that they represent the community as they have the loudest input.

    This is just a typical example of Green Left politics taking over and imposing their white, middle-class values as being the morally correct value system as didn’t you know – it’s just the way it should be – ’cause we just know better.

    So what defines a small community – 1000 households or 10,000 households, and who decides who gets to decide – ratepayers, the full time employed, people with a degree. Or just those that agree with whatever value system the loudest are seeking to impose.

    As is so often the case – the whole meme that the community does not want it is a bogus construct. It’s a self selecting process where the self appointed green shirts force themselves into the centre of an issue and then create the false construct that they represent the community as they have the loudest input. This is just Green Left politics taking over and imposing their cultural values as being the morally correct value system as didn’t you know – it’s just the way it should be – ’cause we just know better.

  19. Mike Smith

    @Simon: often there’s an implied agreement or covenant about what is acceptable for an area based on what’s there currently. Trying to alter this without the agreement of the stakeholders of the area isn’t a good idea, and Maccas may find it backfires on them over a larger area than this one ‘restaurant’. Also, people don’t like corporations that use SLAPP on individuals like this.

  20. Forbes Hawkins

    Simon, if you’re struggling with the term “small community”, will you accept that the boundaries of the Yarra Ranges Shire Council should be considered an appropriate way to define the community in question. This is of course the democratically elected body that voted against the development.

  21. Simon Mansfield

    So Mike, on that basis – the deep south in US was well within it’s right to maintain segregation – as that was the established norm of the area. And the intervention of the US Govt was against the democratic cultural norms of the areas that were subjected to federal intervention in the 1960s.

    Gay people are not that welcome in large slabs of the outer suburbs. So shall we stop a gay community group opening a shop front to undertake community outreach.

    It’s pretty white these days across most of Australia – shall we stop black or yellow people living in such an area and opening their funny smelling food stores. I mean why should some upstart outsider come into my community and change my culturally superior ways of meat pies and beer.

    Lots of people are very concerned about food miles. So should we ban the selling of organic food stuffs and so called fair trade foodstuffs from grocery stores that one bright spark above said were such a great feature of food stores in Tecoma. This is a serious issue and we need to have limits on how far food products are transported. Or is it okay if they are organic and free range from the other side of the world – and cost 10 times the price of a mass produced item from just down the valley made using domestic sourced inputs.

    I look forward to the Tecoma 8 issuing a rule book for what is acceptable cultural and economic practices and what is against the law of the Yarra Ranges Free Republic. All hail the Green Shirts as they know best for you and me.

  22. Mike Smith

    Strawman argument there, Simon.

  23. Simon Mansfield

    The Strawman is the one wearing the Green Shirt deciding what is morally correct based on their own prejudices and seeking to impose those prejudices on anyone they deem to be morally deficient to the ’cause. Slippy slope politics with unlimited potential for unintended consequences.

    I look forward to the Tecoma 8 issuing the 2013 Rule Book for what is deemed acceptable cultural and economic practices of the Yarra Ranges Free Republic.

  24. Simon Mansfield

    What’s your point Mike. That we can isolate anti Macca protests from every other interest group with a barrow to push against something they don’t like. Democracy isn’t about letting Green Shirts and Busy Bodies alike decide what someone can eat. The anti Macca movement is about ideology – nothing more nothing left. They just think their ideology trumpts everything else. So stick your strawman where the sun don’t shine. The Tecoma 8 are just trolls albeit with Green Shirts on.

  25. Venise Alstergren

    SIMON MANSFIELD: You are working on the hypothesis that the so-called silent majority are in favour of a McDonalds in Tecoma. How do you arrive at that conclusion?

    I can assure you-from a ten year’s brawl with councils, etc: that just as many people don’t want a particular building/freeway/bridle path to be constructed, but don’t wish to be thought of as pushy or noisy by saying so.

    Why do you imagine that the protesters represent the minority point of view? You are the one speaking from your own prejudices. Worse, you cite American practice with the suggestion that it is superior to the Oz system before bracketing MacDonalds with abortion clinics. That should give management the heaves.

  26. Venise Alstergren

    SIMON MANSFIELD: Since when was a war not fought on the basis of ideology?

    You could, perhaps, proof read your comments-or was it a Freudian moment when you said “Nothing more nothing left?”

  27. Mike Smith

    Still a strawman argument, and therefore invalid. You’re working hard on making it an ad hominem as well. Keep up the good work there!


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