The NSW Government today announced legislation will be introduced to the NSW Parliament to increase enforcement powers with respect to illegal protests.
The Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment to ensure that the right to peaceful protest is balanced with the need to ensure public safety, the safety of workers, the protection of communities and lawful business activity.
Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the reforms enable Police to take a more proactive approach to managing and prosecuting illegal activity.
“The NSW Government makes clear its support for the right to legal protests conducted in accordance with the Summary Offences Act 1988,” Mr Roberts said.
“However unlawful activities put the safety of protesters and workers at risk and are costly for businesses and the public.
“Communities also suffer, with the deployment of Police resources reducing the capacity to respond to critical incidents.”
Key reforms include:
· Creating the offence of ‘aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands’, with a maximum penalty of $5,500 under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901, including amendments relating to illegal protests which occur on mine sites;
· Extending the meaning of ‘mine’ to include petroleum workplaces, in connection with the existing indictable offence of intentionally or recklessly interfering with a mine under the Crimes Act 1900;
· Additional search and seizure powers for Police to deal with people who intend to ‘lock-on’ to equipment or structures for the purpose of interfering with a business or undertaking, and that is likely to be used in a way that poses a serious risk to the safety of any person, under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002; and
· Removing limitations to allow Police to give directions in public places to prevent obstructions of persons or traffic for a demonstration, protest, procession or organised assembly under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.