Supreme Court strikes down NSW’s tough anti-protest laws

The NSW Supreme Court has struck down part of a suite of tough anti-protest laws rushed through state parliament last year, ruling that criminalising activities that cause partial closures or redirections around ports and train stations was constitutionally invalid.

Climate change protesters Dominique Jacobs and Helen Kvelde, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, launched a constitutional challenge last year to the new laws, which imposed a maximum penalty of a $22,000 fine, imprisonment for two years, or both.

Lawyers for the protesters argued in court this year that the laws, introduced last year by the former NSW Coalition government with the support of the then Labor opposition, fell foul of the implied freedom of political communication in the Commonwealth Constitution.

The judge said that “protests over environmental issues … do, as a general proposition, constitute political communication”.

He noted the provision criminalising a range of conduct near major facilities “reaches its zenith in prohibiting conduct which is not prohibited by existing criminal statute law such as … remaining near any part of a major facility which causes people to be redirected”.

David Morris, chief executive of the Environmental Defenders Office, said Australian democracy owed a debt to the two Knitting Nannas, Dom and Helen, who took this challenge.

Source: Supreme Court strikes down NSW’s tough anti-protest laws

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