Earlier this week, the NSW Supreme Court ruled that NSW anti-protest laws are constitutionally invalid.
These laws were enacted last year in response to a climate protest that caused traffic disruptions, criminalizing activities that cause obstructions, partial closures, or redirections around various major facilities, and carry a maximum penalty of a $22,000 fine, imprisonment for two years, or both.
'Knitting Nannas' Dominique Jacobs and Helen Kvelde challenged these laws, arguing that they did not uphold the implied freedom of political communication in the Commonwealth Constitution.
The court found that these new laws were not justified when protest activity caused people to be redirected or caused a facility to be partially closed. Therefore, those parts of the laws were deemed invalid.
However, City Hub spoke to Lydia Shelly, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL), who described the decision as “only a partial win for the right to protest.”
“The only way for the right to protest to be truly held as a right is for the remaining draconian anti protest laws to be repealed and a Bill of Rights to be introduced for the country,” she said.
“We are the only western liberal democratic country without one – and that is the only real way to ensure that our right to protest is protected.”
The laws were introduced by the former NSW Coalition Government but with the full support of then Labor opposition.
Speaking to City Hub, Ms Shelly further called on the community.
“The way to protect the right to protest is that people need to realise that they are the leaders of our communities,” she said. “We cannot afford to wait until our rights and civil liberties are taken away – we must actively engage with other communities and the political system to cultivate a rights focused culture in our country.”
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