NSW Government looks to beef up anti-protest laws to deal with professional protesters
March 7th, 2016
The New South Wales Government is preparing legislative reforms to deal with protestors who interfere with approved resources projects.
Under the proposed laws, reported in the Daily Telegraph, the new powers will allow police to issue “move on” orders on private land, similar to those now available on public land, and will allow police to deal with people trying to lock-on to equipment to disrupt operation.
It’s also reported that the fines for aggravated unlawful entry on enclosed lands will rise from $550 to $5500.
NSW Energy Minister Anthony Roberts is reported as saying that the measures were necessary to protect miner and police lives from “eco-fascists” and said jail terms could even be considered in future if the tougher penalties were not enough.
The Telegraph article highlights the situation in North Western NSW, where more than 300 instances of obstruction have been recorded since November at the worksite for a Santos water treatment plant, with almost 40 people arrested.
The article also points out that of the people ‘rounded up’ in the Pilliga region ‘virtually none are from the local area around Narrabri’.
News that the New South Wales Government is planning tougher anti-protest powers to deal with anti-fossil fuel activists has drawn an entirely predictable response from professional protest group Lock the Gate.
Managing to drum up some farmers to quote, Lock the Gate’s media release refers to the new laws as a ‘slur’ against protesters, while on social media, the confected outrage is palpable as groups supporting protesters try to paint the proposed changes as an ‘us and them’ move by Government.
The issue of increased penalties for groups who interfere with legitimate resources activities has been raised in Tasmania and Western Australia, and ERIC highlighted the need for similar legislative reform in a submission to a NSW Parliamentary inquiry in late 2014.
The antics of the Pilliga protestors strengthen the case for these new powers.