In the lead up to the poll on 25 March, pressure is building on Premier Dominic Perrottet as the reality of the NSW anti-protest laws sinks in for the broader New South Wales community. NSW Police reportedly told organisers of the weekend’s Sydney International Women's Day March, the School Strike for Climate last week and the organisers of the 2023 May Day Rally that they could not hold these community-based actions in front of Sydney Town Hall if the number of people exceed 2,000 - an arbitrary number that has no legislative or policy basis.
On Monday night, the City of Sydney council passed a motion from Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore rejecting police attempts to restrict protests at Sydney Town Hall and a second motion condemning the recent arrest and restrictive bail conditions of protestors in the City of Sydney.
Josh Pallas, President, New South Wales Council of Civil Liberties said, “Activism changes history and the right to stand together and peacefully protest must be protected and defended for every citizen not pared back. The Perrottet government’s anti-protest laws fly in the face of what civil society organisations fight for. We thank Councillor Ellsmore for vocally opposing these measures which negatively impact on our rights to freedom of speech and peacefully assembly across NSW.”
The NSW union movement has condemned this legislation and these recent threats by NSW Police particularly despite both Liberal and Labor assurances that the anti-protest laws will not impact unions. These laws criminalise protest actions, which may impact on workers’ legitimate right to take industrial action in central Sydney.
“The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties thanks and acknowledges the City of Sydney Council for its reaffirmation support for peaceful protest, and its opposition to heavy handed Policing. The implications of criminalising protest at iconic sites like Town Hall and Oxford Street is unimaginable to ordinary Australians who have watched and actively participated in protests across countless human rights issues. These new regulations restrict peaceful protest rights that have always been the lawful right of trade unions, climate campaigners and other activists to convey their message.”