Protecting communities from illegal protestors
Legislation has been passed to prevent illegal protestors from causing mayhem to the people of NSW.
The NSW Parliament has today passed Government legislation to prevent illegal protestors from causing further mayhem on prescribed major roads, bridges, tunnels, public transport and infrastructure facilities across the state.
Acting Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said the Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 builds on the immediate action the Government took by regulation last week, which made it an offence to cause disruptions on any bridge or tunnel across Greater Sydney.
“While the NSW Government respects the right to protest, that must be weighed against the right of other members of the public to move freely and not be obstructed in public places. Illegal protesting has no place in our state and this new legislation demonstrates that we are committed to cracking down on this selfish, economic vandalism,” Mr Toole said.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the legislation amends the Roads Act 1993 and the Crimes Act 1900 to clarify and strengthen protections against illegal activity that disrupts any roads, bridges, tunnels, public transport and infrastructure facilities prescribed in regulations.
“This Bill strengthens the penalties that may be applied to people who participate in illegal protests where their actions cause serious disruption to our roads, public transport or major infrastructure,” Mr Speakman said.
“The existing section 144G of the Roads Act 1993 makes it an offence to enter, remain on, or otherwise trespass on prescribed major bridges or tunnels in NSW if that conduct causes a serious disruption. The Bill expands this to prescribed roads. It also creates an equivalent offence under the Crimes Act 1900 so that activities that detrimentally affect prescribed public transport or infrastructure facilities can be captured.”
Initially, the new offence under the Crimes Act 1900 will cover the three ports of Newcastle, Port Kembla and Port Botany. It is the Government’s intention to prescribe additional facilities.
Both new offences carry a maximum penalty of $22,000 or two years in jail, or both.
Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said the changes will ensure there are severe penalties for future protestors looking to block key transport routes across NSW.
“Protestors who stop commuters getting to and from work and block our transport links put themselves and drivers at risk and have no place on our roads,” Mrs Ward said.
“Under these changes, protestors who block any major routes in our state will now face much harsher penalties, aligned to the disruption they create across our networks.”
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the new legislation will also protect infrastructure and livelihoods in the bush.
“Keeping our regional roads, rail and other key transport routes open is critical and these laws will work to ensure they are not an easy target,” Mr Farraway said.