Media Release

15 April 2016

The NSW Government’s extreme anti-protest laws will be repealed within the first 100 days of a Foley Labor Government.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley made the announcement today while meeting with the Knitting Nannas, Lock the Gate and Gasfield Free Northern Rivers in Lismore on the NSW North Coast.

In March 2016 under questioning from Labor in the Parliament, Energy Minister Anthony Roberts refused to rule out sending peaceful protesters, such as the Knitting Nannas, to prison.

The new laws – brought in last month and strongly opposed by NSW Labor at every stage – prevent legitimate, peaceful protest by law-abiding members of the community.

The oppressive legislation strikes at the heart of our democracy and limits the right of a person to:
· Peacefully protest;
· Signify community feeling and opposition to government policies and actions with which they disagree;
· Hold governments to account; and
· Promote progressive social change.

Activities that were once completely legal now expose farmers, groups such as the Knitting Nannas and the wider community to jail for up to seven years for acting to protect their land, water and food security.

As well, police have been granted extraordinary new powers to search and seize people without warrants and fines for trespassing on miners’ land have jumped tenfold from $550 to $5,500.

In addition, further reform by the Baird Government has effectively reduced the fines faced by large mining companies for exploring or mining without permission.

Before the legislative changes, companies faced fines of up to $1.1 million, now those offences can be dealt with by way of a penalty infringement notice and a $5,000 fine.

This is a government that sides with corporate interests and not the community. NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley is vowing to repeal the anti-protest legislation as a priority.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley:
“I will repeal the Baird Government’s undemocratic anti-protest laws within 100 days of the election of a NSW Labor Government.
“While Mike Baird moves to arrest peaceful protestors he has reduced the penalties that mining companies can face. This is a government that sides with corporate interests and not the community.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Adam Searle:
“The right of citizens to peacefully protest is a corner-stone of our democracy. These new laws are aimed at preventing legitimate, peaceful protests.
“This legislation elevates the rights of CSG and other mining companies over the rights of land owners; it advantages business interests over those of other property rights and the general community.”

Quotes attributable to Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot:
“This legislation criminalises activities that were once completely legal and could see upstanding members of the community jailed for up to seven years.
“These changes are particularly directed to community protests against coal seam and other unconventional gas projects, especially on the North Coast of NSW.”

Quote attributable to Federal Labor Candidate for Page Janelle Saffin:
“The Liberal-National Government has created these laws to break up community protests like the Bentley protest and groups like the Knitting Nannas.”
Quote attributable to Mayor of Lismore Jenny Dowell
“Community members here have successfully and peacefully protested against CSG on the North Coast and will continue to do so if necessary. They deserve to exercise that right without fear of arrest or a whopping fine.”