A new law threatening our right to protest is before state parliament and is causing major concern among unions. This new law will grant police and PSOs the power to stop or prevent protesting and picketing.
The bill will mean that police will have greater power to ‘move on’ people who are impeding lawful access to premises, have committed an offense in the public place, are causing others to have a reasonable fear of violence, or are endangering safety or engaging in behaviour likely to cause damage to property. Not complying with the ‘move on’ direction from police would result in a $720 fine or even arrest. An individual given repeated orders could be issued an exclusion order, a breach of which could mean up to 2 years in jail.
The Law Institute of Victoria has raised concerns about the effect of the bill and it’s impact on democracy – they describe how picketing, and demonstrating in public may be threatened:
“A healthy democracy is one that values people coming together to protest and freely express their ideas and opinions. Laws that restrict freedom of movement, peaceful assembly, association or expression require a clear and demonstrated justification by government or else they risk undermining not only the fundamental democratic values that strengthen our society but also the most basic rights of people and groups in our community. “
Take up your democratic right to protest by attending the rally at Victorian Trades Hall this Tuesday at 10am. If you can’t make the rally, sign the petition that calls on the Premier to stop this bill here.