Features, Fossil Politics

NSW beefs up penalties for protest

The provisions of NSW’s Right to Farm bill will capture anyone hindering any business anywhere where they are also trespassing. This includes farmers and knitting nannas protesting CSG, unions on worksites, communities protesting against logging in state forests, people staging a sit-in in corporate headquarters of a company, and more. ABOVE: Knitting Nannas at a recent protest in the Braemar Forest, northern NSW.
Photo: David Lowe

By Eve Sinton • Fossil Fool Bulletin 27 September 2019

The NSW Berejiklian government has introduced a Bill to Parliament that will significantly restrict people’s civil liberties and their rights to peaceful protest.

Called the Right to Farm Bill, it massively increases the penalty for ‘aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands’ from $5,500 to $22,000, or three years imprisonment, or both.

“This is completely disproportionate response and a clear attempt to shut down dissent everywhere,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“This is an illiberal attack on our democratic right to protest and should not be allowed to become law.

“Peaceful protest is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy but hidden within this bill are sneaky new laws which directly threaten that right in NSW.

Goes way beyond vegan activists

“This goes way beyond just animal welfare activists on farms.

“These new laws could see farmers who oppose coal and gas projects, communities who protest logging, or even someone who stages a silent protest in a bank in Sydney, face up to three years jail and massive fines.

“It is outrageous that the government have tried to hide their intentions in an agricultural bill when this is a clear attempt from the government to shut down dissent everywhere.

“The provisions of the bill will capture anyone hindering any business anywhere where they are also trespassing.

“This includes farmers and knitting nannas protesting CSG, unions on worksites, communities protesting against logging in state forests, people staging a sit-in in corporate headquarters of a company, and more.”

The North East Forest Alliance has slammed the bill as a covert attack on the rights to peacefully protest or even audit forestry operations on public lands.

“If this bill passes it will mean that if we do anything to hinder a logging operation on public lands we will be liable to fines of up to $22,000 or imprisonment for three years,” NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

“In a time of climate emergency and an extinction crisis, this is an unprecedented and reprehensible assault on our civil rights, aimed at stopping any future actions to protect public lands.

“It is no coincidence that this coincides with protest actions in the Kalang headwaters near Bellingen and Braemar State Forest near Casino.”

FFB could go to jail

If Fossil Fool Bulletin incites or induces people to enter a State Forest, to protest against coal seam gas for example, we will be liable for an $11,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months.

The bill was referred by the Animal Justice Party to an inquiry, which will report back on 21 October.

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