Demonstrators opposed to new laws to limit the right to protest descended on Macquarie Street yesterday, causing traffic chaos outside the State Parliament.
Despite heavy rain, the rally was attended by a broad cross-section of the community representing nurses, teachers, indigenous groups and even the Knitting Nanas Against Gas (KNAG). Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale, Newtown state MP Jenny Leong, union leaders and environmental activists were among the speakers.
The Greens and Labor both oppose moves by Michael Baird’s NSW Coalition government to quash protest aimed at disrupting disputed mining and forestry leases. The measures before parliament would increase tresspass fines from $500 to $5500 and would expand police powers to confiscate material and disband protests.
Ms Leong told the crowd “As a member of the Greens and a Member of Parliament, I will continue to engage in peaceful protest no matter what this state government says are the laws, because we have a fundamental human right to protest and stand up for the things that we think matter, and to object to some of the conservative right-wing agendas that we are seeing being delivered by this government.”
The legislation, introduced into the upper house overnight, also introduces sentences of up to seven years for interfering with a mining site. – Report and photos by Noel Fisher