Desperate Government stifling dissent with more anti-protest laws

Australian Greens

Today’s threats from the Coalition Government against protesters are now the third time the Liberal National Government have sought to target protesters, in an increasingly desperate attempt to avoid scrutiny and to protect big corporations from scrutiny.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“This is now the third time in just four years that the NSW Coalition Government has sought to protect themselves and their corporate mates from legitimate protest.

“The Greens will always support the right to protest, as a fundamental part of a free society.

“The right to protest is a fundamental one in a democracy, and the fact that that this Government is once again seeking to quash this right is an outrage.

“We saw the 2016 “Inclosed Lands” changes that increased fines for protest 10 fold and also sought to protect coal seam gas and mining operations from legitimate protest.

“Under the aggressive 2015 Biodiversity changes, forest protectors and animal welfare campaigners can already face imprisonment of up to three years or fines of up to $1.1 million for standing up for nature.

“The Government can legislate all it wants, but people will still protest until the cruelty and attacks on the planet stop,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Greens MP and Animal Welfare Spokesperson Abigail Boyd said:

“What we see today is just the latest attack on legitimate protest, this time aimed directly at animal welfare activists.

“A one thousand dollar on the spot fine is unprecedented, and is a direct attack on freedom of speech and political expression.

“This Liberal National Government is focused on preventing exposure and scrutiny of the practices of corporate owners of factory farms.

“The more people see the day to day cruelty in the worst offending farm operations, the more pressure there will be to put humane laws in place.

“Activists know that the existing system is not working to protect our planet from catastrophic climate change, to protect animals from systematic brutality or to protect the human rights of citizens and those seeking asylum. We cannot accept further erosion of our democratic rights,” Ms Boyd said.

Background:

Two of the previous actions to criminalize protest by the NSW Coalition government were:

* The 2015 Biosecurity Act that placed new extensive criminal penalties for entering onto farm land and creating a biodiversity “risk” with maximum criminal penalties for individuals of a fine of $1.1 million or three years imprisonment

* The 2016 amendments to the Inclosed Lands Act that increased fines for entering onto on farms, mines or other “inclosed” (normally fenced) land ten-fold to $5,500 with expanded reached for other criminal offences

/Public Release. View in full here.