Barnett’s anti-protest Bill likely to ensnare Roe 8 objectors

Proposed new laws that would criminalise many forms of peaceful protest could ensnare people who take non-violent action to stop Roe 8, Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren said.

Ms MacLaren hosted a “Democracy & Your Rights to Speak Out” public forum in Fremantle on September 30.

“The massive level of objection to Roe 8, especially in the South Metro region, makes it clear that many ordinary people are prepared to take peaceful direct action, for example to block bulldozers from clearing in the Beeliar Wetlands,” Ms MacLaren said.

“This could be why the Barnett Government is moving so aggressively with its plan to create new criminal offences including fines of $24,000 and two years in jail for protest actions.

“Concerningly, the Bill is so loosely drafted that you could be charged with “intending” to obstruct an activity if you are near a “proposed” obstruction site. And if you are in possession of any item which the police believe you “intended” to use in a protest, you could also be charged.

“For example, if you have rope with you, you could be charged for intending to use that rope to climb a tree – even if you deny it was your intention to save it from being felled.

“The proposed law may see many peaceful protestors in court, especially when you consider the strength of feeling in the southern suburbs against the Perth Freight Link.

“We can still stop the passage of this Prevention of Lawful Activity Bill, which is being debated in the WA Upper House.

“I urge people to contact their MP with their objections, and to sign the petition at the community campaign site http://protectpeacefulprotest.com.”