- The forest wars are back, time to mobilise
- Elections as far as the eye can see
- New Green shoots beginning to emerge
- Is Australia really this conservative?
- Individualism, is it just-a consolation prize?
- Three corrupt sectors that distort our economy
- Algorithms for Change – Politics in the Pub
- Now more than ever: non-violence and positive change
- Challenging times ahead, we need to build unity in diversity
- Hung parliament: An outbreak of democracy.
- The future of Capitalism, Democracy and Activism in Australia
- Political donations the essence of corruption
- For sale: your right to protest
- NSW addicted to old habits
- Senate voting reform causes a flurry
- Prohibition, it begins and ends with violating our rights
- Roadside drug tests a big fail
- Climate change, think globally respond regionally
- People power not pollies kept us gasfield free
- The perfect storm: Shenhua and the Liverpool Plains – Mick Daley
- Sovereignty at stake in TPP
- High Noon in the Nthn Rivers: Metgasco Vs Everybody Else
- Rapid Onset Fascism
- Metgasco vs the people
- When injustice becomes the law
- Activism and social movements, an eternal part of human evolution
- Gloucester Dreaming ~ guest post by Mick Daley
- …more commentary
- News & Events
- Bob Brown Is Taking “Shocking” Anti-Protest Laws To The High Court
- Anti protest laws could arrest nannas, seize tractors
- “They blinked first”
- Colin Barnett quick to protest against ‘activism degrees’ – The Australian, 16/10/2014
- ‘Degrees in activism’ put brake on growth – The Australian, 15/10/2014
- Magistrate throws out vexatious police case against CSG protesters
- Outrage over school PR ‘by stealth’- The Northern Star
- CSG clash a certainty
- Communities use new tactics
- Gas group attacks lecturer
- …more media
- Activist Resources
Australia is one of the few modern democracies that lacks constitutional protection of important civil rights such as freedom of assembly and the right to protest. Our rights can be removed by any government desperate, corrupt or short sighted enough to go down that path.
While the High Court has confirmed a limited implied freedom of political communication in our Constitution, it is weak and tends to protect the communication rather than the assembly or protest itself.
Our rights are disappearing alarmingly quickly as conservative state governments across Australia respond to pressure from the mining industry. Last week the NSW government announced a raft of draconian changes designed to disable popular resistance to gas and coal mining.
The wave of anti-protest laws is specifically driven by the powerful mining lobby, the big donors to Australia’s major political parties. There is certainly something rotten in the prospect of large companies buying a democracy where common people can’t even protest peacefully.
The police already had ample powers to arrest persons who cause obstructions, remove lock on devices and close areas of road from public access, so what are the new laws about?
There’s a tenfold increase in the fine for trespass (from $550 to $5500) but only if it’s a business premises, such as a mine. This is a continuation of the approach taken in WA, and Tasmania where the newly invented ‘right to do business’ is given precedence over recognised civil and political rights. This narrative is part of the ongoing global narrative of large corporations that democracy should never be allowed to interfere with corporate profit taking.
Secondly the proposed laws give police an open ended power to search vehicles and confiscate equipment that in their opinion may be intended to be used for a lock on. This could include numerous tools commonly found in farmer’s and tradesman’s utes, anything seized becomes property of the state, and the you can’t even apply to a court to get it back.
Police are also to be given powers to disperse any protest that might cause an obstruction, these dispersal powers are an arbitrary interfere with the basic right of assembly.
Finally protesters convicted of interfering with gas mining operations could now face up to 7 years jail, this could include farmers who attempt to prevent gas mining companies from entering their farms against their will. The significance of the maximum penalty is that it makes the offence a ‘serious criminal offence’ which in turn unleashes a raft of extreme police powers in relation to search, pursuit, a loss of the right to silence under interrogation, increased powers of electronic communications surveillance and possibly the application of criminal gangs legislation. To unleash all of these powers onto peaceful democratic social change organisations is of major significance.
This is the modern mining industry police state of NSW. Protests won’t stop of course, these laws just confirm how deeply industry political donations have become a cancer on democracy.
This article was originally published in the Lismore Echo, 17 March, 2016.