Monday Night Q & A: Anti-Protest Laws

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Kieren Ash, President of the Labor Club

Turns out Mike Baird isn’t the Cool Hot Surfer Dad you thought he was. Instead, he’s become more and more like Australia’s most corrupt political leader, former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen. For those familiar with the police state that was Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland, Mike Baird’s suite of new anti-protest laws have us saying “here we Joh again”.

Baird’s new legislation criminalises peaceful protest action, with increased police powers, huge fines, and gaol terms of up to seven years for interfering with CSG operations, like David Pocock did when he chained himself to mining equipment in 2014. In NSW today, protesting mining has a bigger fine than illegally mining.

Disturbingly, it also criminalises intent, which means that you don’t need to do anything to break these laws – the police just have to have reasonable suspicion you will do something. I tend to roll my eyes whenever someone invokes George Orwell’s 1984 as an argument, but when simply thinking about doing something is illegal in a liberal democracy – committing Thoughtcrime – something is seriously wrong.

A new criminal offence, “unlawful entry on enclosed lands”, is so broadly defined as to be universal. Laws intended to frustrate anti CSG activists can also be applied to anyone interfering with any business activity, just about anywhere in the state.

Illegalising protest is straight out of the Baird Liberal playbook. If they don’t agree with you, shut them down. If there’s information that might damage you, hide it. It’s not just greenies and unions who are concerned about these laws. The Law Council of NSW, farmers, civil libertarians and even Knitting Nanna’s have formed an unlikely alliance to fight this crackdown on our basic civil rights.

Peaceful protests aren’t just good because they’ve achieved so much in the past; an end to child labour, a woman’s right to vote, an eight-hour workday, a five-day working week, Indigenous rights, saving countless environmental treasures. They’re good because they’re a healthy exercise of our rights to association, freedom of movement, and our freedom of political communication. Our ability to protest is a check on the excesses of government, and a sure sign of a functioning healthy democracy.

The Liberal party sells itself as the guardians of small government, economic freedom, and individual rights. Under Mike Baird, they’ve become the party of special interests, lobbyists, and mining companies. The sooner Mike Baird owns up and admits he’s no longer our Premier but the CEO of NSW Inc., the better.

 

Daniel Gibbons, Vice President of MQ Lib Activities and Marketing

The matter is this. Cut the nonsense, cut the labels, cut all this scaremongering noise about Mike Baird creating a ‘Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland’. Whilst the Left believe it somehow erases the cornerstones of democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of association, it in fact cements the freedoms we have. This law simply ensures that business will not go unhindered despite protest movements. That’s how basic these laws are.

It must be the cornerstone of any democracy that peaceful protest does not lead to the disruption of other members of the citizenry. Lambasting protesters do not have a reserved privilege to trample the right to freedom of movement just because they have a perception of self-righteousness in their cause.

They say that Mike Baird will use these laws to dismantle protests that object to his government’s policies and will use it to control debate around issues by denying protests from being permitted to operate. This assumes that the Mike Baird government is going to be so blatantly ridiculous and so foolish as to forcefully dismantle protests against his policies, which is something that is so ridiculous to consider that only the most bewildered disenfranchised Lefty could legitimately believe that was possible.

Secondly, the law is not enforced by the Premier of New South Wales; it is instead enforced by the New South Wales Police. They are not controlled by Mike Baird in any form or manner, and Mike Baird does not make the decision for the police which protests they decide to dismantle. The Left make the crudest of assertions that the NSW Police are at the beck and call of the state, and would execute the law to the benefit of the Baird Government. Are they meaning to say that our Police Force is so bias that their loyalty is sworn to Mike Baird instead of the Australian public?

The inanity of these claims is evidence of the lunacy that is so prolifically ingrained into the Leftist method of thinking. They spread blatantly unfounded lies about laws designed to ensure the freedom of movement of the citizenry and to ensure that business goes without disruption and without pause. This is not only a social freedom but also an economic freedom. We cannot have protests obstructing business in our free market economy. It undermines the very values we hold dearest in our western democracy.

Do not let the Left delude the public with such claptrap nonsense about the undermining of our freedom of speech and association. Underpinning this issue is instead a threat to the economic freedoms we hold very closely to our hearts in our free society, and the freedom of movement that is just as essential to the liberty of our nation. It is by authoritarian judgement that the Left attempts to attack and dismantle this law. So it must be by liberty-driven decision that we support and implement this law