You’ve probably seen the actions of Blockade Australia. They’ve been active in traffic disruptions including a shutdown of Sydney’s major roads in reaction to Australia’s failure to respond to the climate and ecological crises.
But governments don’t like it.
In a recent action, NSW police made 23 arrests involving people allegedly engaged in the protests.
Those arrested came from Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, NSW and the ACT, and were aged from their 20s to their 70s.
And last month a farm north-west of Sydney, was raided by heavily armed police in dramatic fashion, with dogs and helicopters in tow.
Seven protesters were charged, with some facing up to 10 years in jail.
Disruptive protests like those of Blockade Australia certainly make an impact. And protest is an essential form of communication by the people and can influence our democratic representatives.
However, increasingly, state governments are cracking down. Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales have all recently proposed or introduced harsh anti-protest bills which deliberately target environmental and climate activists such as those involved with Blockade Australia.
And here in WA we have the Prevention of Lawful Activity Bill – introduced in 2016 in which there are harsh penalties for certain types of blockade actions including 2 years in jail and a fine of 24,000 dollars.
This rise of anti-protest regulation has been called draconian and undemocratic – an attack on our democratic right to peaceful, non-violent protest.
But do these laws suppress environmental protesters – and does criminalisation actually work?
I’m joined by Dr Robyn Gulliver – Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the The University of Queensland.
Robyn is also an author of a recent publication: Civil Resistance Against Climate Change.