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Activists mimic tent protest
Activists mimic tent protest

Premier Colin Barnett was trapped inside a Kings Park function centre and heckled by angry demonstrators yesterday in scenes uncannily similar to the Aboriginal tent embassy controversy in Canberra last month.

One of the main players in the Canberra fracas, Noongar activist Marianne Mackay, led about 30 protesters who pummelled windows and yelled abuse at Mr Barnett, two Cabinet Ministers and 150 delegates of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.

They were meeting to consider the Government's $1 billion offer to settle native title claims over Perth and the South West.

The rowdy group, which included family and associates of recently deceased leader Robert Bropho, called the Premier a "racist dog" and jostled with police, dignitary protection officers and guards.

Mr Barnett, Attorney-General Christian Porter and Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier waited 35 minutes as officers planned their exit from the State Reception Centre to a waiting car.

The events mirrored the infamous tent embassy incident on Australia Day involving Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Ms Mackay, a former chairwoman of the WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, yesterday vowed to set up a tent embassy in WA.

Despite the ugly scenes, Mr Barnett described yesterday's meeting with delegates from the six Noongar native title claimant groups as "a good and confident and optimistic start".

"There is a lot of detail to be discussed in the coming months but I am optimistic and I think the Noongar people are optimistic that we will reach agreement this year," he said.

He said he did not feel threatened and defended the location of the talks, saying the reception centre was the "perfect and most appropriate" place for the event.

The protesters were condemned by the lead negotiator, SWALSC chief executive Glen Kelly, and Labor frontbencher Ben Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt said the protesters denigrated Noongar people who wanted to participate in the talks and made ridiculous claims.

Mr Kelly said it was time to stop chanting slogans and get on with accepting a deal that could change the fortunes of Noongar people.

He said the protesters were disgraceful and the delegates inside were very angry.

"They were just a disgrace, they abused and threatened and intimidated elders and women," he said.