South Aussie Labor Government Introduces Anti Protest Laws

From Barry Camfield – Campaign For Trade Union Freedom Australia

Dale Beasley, State Secretary SA Unions

Despite having a Labor Government here in South Australia, the prospect of environmental groups continuing to hold demo’s and causing disruption at various events, including sporting ones, has caused this State Labor Government to panic and rush through an appalling new law which threatens our union’s freedom to demonstrate, march and hold public rallies! Is it simply “unintended consequences” or something more sinister?

I have no need to explain Labor’s actions further as Dale Beasley, State Secretary of the trade union movement here in South Australia explains the details well in the article below.

It is no wonder that the trade union movement, the only true voice of workers, needs to keep an extremely close eye on the political machinations of even Labor administrations, not just Tory/Liberal ones.

“Late last week, the South Australia government, with the support of the Liberals, rushed new laws through the lower house of Parliament that could see protesters and community members charged with $50,000 fines and thee months jail time for obstructing a public place. It took just 22 minutes for the laws to be introduced and passed. No consultation occurred with the community or anyone outside parliament house before these laws were passed. They now just have to pass the upper house to become law.

The government say that these laws are in response to Extinction Rebellion’s recent tactics, but they go much further than that. Changes the government have made to the charge of causing an obstruction in a public place are so broad and poorly defined, that they could capture all sorts of unintentional activity.

Here are some of the things for which people could face up to 3 months jail time or $50,000 in fines:
• Any peaceful community protest conducted in public by workers, even if it is conducted in a manner that does not obstruct entry to a worksite itself,
• A politician handing out flyers, who causes a member of the public to deviate from their course,
• A person who organises an event (whether or not they themselves attend) where an obstruction is caused by someone who attended,
• A homeless person who sleeps on a footpath,
• Carrying a couch across a road while moving house.

We like to believe in South Australia that we are a fair, reasonable and progressive state. But there is nothing fair and reasonable about the government’s rushed anti protest laws. They are a massive overreach and a mess of outrageous consequences. 

Unions, civil society groups, conservation groups and human rights experts have been calling for the laws to be halted all week. Yesterday, senior legal figures including the Law Society of SA and the SA Bar Association joined the chorus of opposition to the laws.

In spite of this, the government is pushing ahead. They have given notice that they will ram their anti protest laws through the upper house next Tuesday.

We cannot accept that this is how laws get made in SA, especially laws which dictate what the community can and cannot do in public places.

These laws must be stopped.

Join us in Festival Plaza on Tuesday morning May 30th to send government a strong message that these laws must not proceed!

Dale Beasley – State Secretary SA Unions”

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