CityHub: Government forced to conduct public review of NSW’s anti-protest laws

The NSW Government confirmed this afternoon that there will be a public review into the state’s anti-protest laws after overwhelming public pressure.

This comes after 37 organisations and over 1000 individuals signed an open letter and petition demanding the review, and for it to be conducted transparently with the opportunity for public scrutiny.

In 2022, the NSW Government passed legislation to prevent protesting on major roads, bridges, tunnels, public transport and infrastructure facilities. This amended section 144G the Roads Act 1993 which criminalises serious disruption by entering, remaining on or trespassing on prescribed major bridges and tunnels, to include all main roads.

The government had previously refused to commit to an open and transparent review, with the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) saying at the time, “The right to protest cannot and should not be scheduled merely for a “departmental” review.”

President Lydia Shelly said, “Today we are living in some of the darkest times that our members have seen for protestors in a very long time.”

“The right to protest has already been eroded enough in this State and politicians should not be given licence to erode it further on the basis of there being ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protest causes,” she continued.

“Protest itself ought to be celebrated as enriching our democracy.”

With the announcement for a public review President Shelly said that although this was a huge win, and “worth a pause to celebrate”, they have not yet overturned the laws, “The fight is not yet over,”.

“NSWCCL condemns this legislation in totality. Protest should not be confined to back roads.  We especially condemn the lack of proportionality of the punishment that can be imposed for offences committed by protesters. We look forward to this public review.”

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