Women arrested after protest against Santos sponsoring Tour Down Under cycling race

Two women in their 60s have been arrested in Adelaide’s CBD after gluing themselves to a pile of bicycles on a city street in protest against Santos being the major sponsor of the Tour Down Under cycling race.

Police charged the women, aged 67 and 68, from Goolwa and Hilton, with unreasonably obstructing the path of a driver or pedestrian.

They blocked both eastbound lanes of Flinders Street outside Santos’ headquarters for about half an hour.

The protest by the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion is the start of a series of disruptions it has planned for the Tour Down Under.

The 10-day race is run by Events South Australia, which is part of the state government’s South Australian Tourism Commission.

Oil and gas producer Santos is the largest company headquartered in South Australia by market capitalisation.

The Tour Down Under starts in Adelaide on Saturday, making its return after an absence in 2021 and 2022.

Two women stand among a group of bikes on a city street with police walking up to them
Police approach the Extinction Rebellion protesters outside Santos’ headquarters in Flinders Street.(ABC News)

Extinction Rebellion wants the state government to drop Santos as the race’s sponsor.

The group’s South Australian spokesman, Chris Johnson, said the government should tax companies such as Santos more instead of taking their sponsorship money.

“The focus of these protests is directed at the government, who are allowing Santos to sportswash and greenwash this event,” he said.

He said Extinction Rebellion was not against cycle races.

“I think people are smart enough to understand that we are targeting Santos at this race, and if we’re there with a presence and we have banners that say ‘dump Santos’ or ‘disrupt Santos’, then it’s pretty clear that we’ re targeting Santos,” he said.

Stencils of the same messages have also been painted on bike paths in Adelaide.

A woman with blonde hair wearing a shirt saying DUMP SANTOS speaks into a bullhorn
Protesters outside Santos’ headquarters urged the company to stop extracting gas altogether.(ABC News)

Minister calls disruption outrageous

South Australian Tourism Minister Zoe Bettison described Extinction Rebellion’s plans to disrupt the race “galling”.

She said the company was committed to achieving net zero emissions and the Tour Down Under should not be targeted.

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