ENVIRONMENT

NSW cracks down on mine protests

NEW South Wales police are getting increased powers to deal with illegal protests on mining sites and protestors face stiffer fines under a bill being introduced to the NSW Parliament.

Noel Dyson
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This move comes in response to a spate of actions where protestors have trespassed on property and interfered with mining and oil and gas equipment. In past actions access gates have been sabotaged or blocked, explosive charges have been tampered with and in one case a security vehicle was rammed.

The Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Amendment Bill 2016, creates the offence of aggravated unlawful entry onto inclosed lands and gives a maximum penalty of $5500 under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901.

There are also amendments relating to illegal protests that occur on mine sites.

The bill also extends 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.

Police will also be given additional search and seizure powers 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 safety under the Law Enforcement Act 2002.

The bill will also remove limitations stopping police giving directions in public places to prevent obstructions of people or traffic for a demonstration, protest, procession or organised assembly under the Law Enforcement Act 2002.

NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said the changes allowed police to take a more proactive approach to managing and prosecuting illegal activity.

He said the government supported the right to legal protests.

“However, unlawful activities put the safety of protestors and workers at risk and are costly for businesses and the public,” Roberts said.

“Communities also suffer with the deployment of police resources reducing the capacity to respond to critical incidents.”

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