Farmers face 7 years jail as Baird’s anti-protest laws pass Upper House 20 – 16
MEDIA RELEASE – 16 March 2016
The NSW Greens today condemned Mike Baird, the National Party and the Shooters Party for ramming through laws that could see protestors, including farmers, jailed for up to 7 years for protecting land, water, climate and communities.
The laws were passed on a vote of 20-16 at 5.20pm this evening, with the Shooters and Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats voting with the Government . The laws increase fines for protestors by 1000%, give police additional powers to break up protests, search people and seize property, and expands the definition hindering a mine with a maximum penalty of seven years jail.
Greens MP and Mining Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said:
“This is Australia, not Vladimir Putin’s Russia. We should have the right to peaceful protest and political expression in this country.
“Land use conflict and opposition to fossil fuels is a major issue in NSW, but it needs a political solution, not a jack-boot police crackdown on democratic rights.
“The Liberals, Nationals and the Shooters Party have sided with the big mining and gas companies over farmers and the community. If farmers are thrown in jail for defending their land and water, the political parties that supported these laws will be punished by voters.
“Despite the Government’s threat, farmers and concerned citizens will continue to protest, no matter the penalty, because they are fighting for the common good,” Mr Buckingham said.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The right to protest dates back 800 years to the Magna Carta but Premier Baird is so arrogant that he believes he can trample that right to deliver for the Liberal party’s paymasters in the mining industry.
“Protest is an essential part of a functioning democracy, it ended slavery, delivered Aboriginal land rights, gave women the vote, saved the Franklin and protected the Rocks and that’s why the Greens will always support it.
“These laws have no social licence in NSW and if ever the police or the Liberal National parties try to enforce them, they will hit a wall of public protest that will stop them in their tracks,” Mr Shoebridge said.