Fresh regulations made under the new anti-protest laws have made it a crime, punishable by up to 2 years in jail, to take part in or organise a protest at Town Hall that blocks any of the entrances to the train station. Criminalising protest at Town Hall is just one part of sweeping regulations made under the new anti-protest laws that criminalise protest activity at or near over 40 train stations from Wollongong to the Hunter.
The regulations also extend harsh penalties to any protest that occurs on a main road anywhere in NSW. Main roads include George Street, Oxford Street, Lee Street and Taylor Square. These are places that have a rich history of protest and dissent.
Under these laws, large scale protests can only occur if the police give their prior consent. Police have repeatedly made clear that they oppose large scale protests such as the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests at Sydney Town Hall. No other comparable country with democratic traditions gives the police veto powers over protests.
Greens MP and Roads Spokesperson Abigail Boyd said:
“The NSW government has gotten drunk on power and has written legislation that seeks to curtail the right to political speech and the right to peaceful assembly in this state.
“The major parties are so captured by the interests of their big business mates that they are willing to trample on some of the most fundamental political rights of the people of NSW.
“Nobody likes to be criticised, but that doesn’t mean you get to imprison those who speak out against you.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“These laws have been written with the clear intent of jailing the Government’s opponents. We know they will have an especially harsh impact on First Nations and climate protests.
“We have all seen what happens when police have the power to veto protests in Moscow and Beijing, now they have been given that same power or veto and arrest at Sydney Town Hall.
“The right to protest comes with the right to cause disruption. Quiet protest in a park that no one sees and doesn’t cause a stir won’t challenge any government, and that’s just how Labor and the Coalition want it.
“Police don’t like protests, especially when these protests are against police brutality and the racism of the justice system. Asking for their consent is seriously Orwellian,” Mr Shoebridge said.
New Road Regulations:
- Expand highly prohibitive laws that applied only to the Harbour Bridge to almost all the road network in NSW
- Capture practically every road in NSW including all “main roads”, all highways, freeways, and toll roads
- Applies to every bridge or tunnel in Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong, as well as any bridge or tunnel connecting onto practically any road in NSW
- The regulations essentially prohibit all street politics, marches and rallies in NSW that don’t receive prior sign off from the NSW Police
Crimes Act Regulations:
- Cover metropolitan train stations, ferry and cruise terminals
- Also apply to Lucas Heights Nuclear reactor, power stations and major distribution centres
- You will now need explicit police approval to gather at or near Town Hall, which would have seen attendees at actions like the recent Black Lives Matter rally in 2020 faced with 2 years imprisonment and/or a $22,000 fine