New Anti-Protest Laws: Australia Fights for the Right to Fight


Today marked a day of protest in the Australian state, New South Wales. The protests, however, were protests for the right to protest, as the government responded with newly laid out anti-protest laws.

Debate is continuing this week after hundreds of people rallied together to shut down part of Sydney’s CBD, rallying against the “draconian” changes proposed with the new legislation.  The rally of almost 500 protesters armed with placards, stood at the front of the state parliament “You gotta fight for your right to fight,” shutting down busy Macquarie Street on Tuesday morning.

The new laws would see increased fines to anyone who entered mining and coal seam gas sites from $550 to 5500. The fines could also carry up to 7 years’ imprisonment for protestors deemed guilty, reported Nine News.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham showed support for the protestors, announcing plans to vote against the laws he claims are designed to intimate protestors and benefit big industries such as the mining corporations. “It’s a community’s right to collectively band together and protest,” he said.

The laws remove “protections for political activities,” The Guardian reported after a NSW Bar Association submitted a document stipulating the erosion of democratic freedoms for the Australian people. Those political activities, that have “been regarded as an essential part of the social, political and cultural life of any civilized society”, are at risk, the Bar Association said, and the newly proposed laws should not be supported.

The laws will also give police extended powers under the proposed legislation set to be introduced into parliament this week, and limit peaceful protests. Currently under section 200 of the Law Enforcement Act, police are limited with what they can do in genuine protests and industrial disputes. The NSW Bar Association argues that the proposals will remove the “important check on police power to ensure some balance…” The Guardian reports.

The Law Society is very concerned with the apparent trend of expanding police powers without corresponding judicial and other safeguards,” their submission read. “In our view, such a trend would represent an erosion of long-standing democratic institutions and individual rights. For the reasons set out above, the Law Society is not able to support the bill in its current form.”

Adam Searle, Labor’s spokesman has said “The right to protest must be reserved for future generations.”

Jeremy speaks out against Mike Baird draconian anti-protest lawsHere’s my speech in the pouring rain against Mike Baird’s nasty anti-protest laws outside NSW Parliament today. “This is New South Wales, this is not Putin’s Russia.”

Posted by Jeremy Buckingham on Monday, March 14, 2016

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