Climate activists have been warned there will be no let up by police if they continue to disrupt a global mining conference in Melbourne, with dozens of people arrested so far this week.
Demonstrators claimed they had already achieved their goal after two days of protests, saying they had gained lots of media and public attention for their cause.
But police said the activists had been employing more violent methods and warned that officers will continue to arrest anyone deemed to be breaking the law.
About 300 protesters gathered outside the city’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday, some gluing themselves to the ground in an attempt to prevent delegates entering the International Mining and Resources Conference.
Blockade spokeswoman Emma Black accused police of “atrocious” treatment of protesters, but Victoria Police insisted they have been doing their job in a “measured” way.
Officers used capsicum spray to break up the crowds. At least two protesters made it inside the meeting, with one storming the stage before being removed.
Following Wednesday’s protests – which ended in 17 arrests – Commander Libby Murphy said police will not be deterred from doing their job, no matter how many demonstrators appear for the final day of the conference
“Regardless of whether the numbers grow we are in a position to actually use the same tactics and the same dispersal methods and hold people to account for the actions regardless of the numbers,” she said.
Protesters have pledged to start planning immediately for next year’s event.
“We hope that what happened this year was just kind of the first attempt at calling these people out,” Ms Black said.
A conference organiser said security coverage for the three-day meeting is “constantly being updated as we take advice from Victoria Police”.
More than 50 arrests were made on Tuesday.