Honi Soit: NSW Anti-protest laws under departmental review: open letter demands transparency.

In an open letter, civil rights groups have demanded the government either repeal the "anti-democratic" anti-protest laws in NSW or include a community consultation component in the ongoing review of the 2022 amendments. The review of these controversial laws, which criminalize protesting on major roads with penalties of up to $22,000 and/or two years in prison, has been conducted behind closed doors since April 1. These amendments to section 144G of the Roads Act 1993 have significantly intensified the stakes for protestors accross NSW.

The letter, published by New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL), described these laws as “draconian” and demanded the NSW premier and legal advisors protect the “fundamental democratic right […] to express our views, shape our societies, and press for social change” that protesting allows.

“It is essential that members of the community, civil society organisations, legal experts, protesters and protest movements and other stakeholders are given the opportunity to publicly explain the grassroots impacts of these laws,” the letter said. 

“As part of a healthy democracy the government should invite comment and critique from the community about its laws,” said NSWCCL President Lydia Shelly, “this review of the Anti-Protest legislation should be open and transparent to reflect our government’s commitment to open debate.”

“The diversity of the organisations that have signed the open letter is significant,” an NSWCCL spokesperson said, “it evidences the grave concerns that are held by civil society organisations, unions, faith bodies, environmental and human rights organisations.”

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