Anti-protest Bill delayed until next year

Peaceful Protest is a Right!The controversial Bill to criminalise protest has been held over until February despite the Barnett Government’s attempt to pass it this year during an extraordinarily late night sitting of the WA Upper House, says Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren.

 “At about 2am, the Opposition and Government agreed to deal with the anti-protest bill in the first week of the 2016 sitting.

 “It became clear that debate on the Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill 2015 would not resume until at least early Friday morning due to the lengthy debate on the bill preceding it, the sale of the Perth Markets Bill.

 “The Government’s stated intention to see the passage of this Bill this year had been somewhat puzzling since the lower house, which has already risen, has not yet considered the Bill. As the hours passed, it became clear, there was insufficient time or energy to conclude the remaining stages of debate.

 About 15 campaigners to Protect Peaceful Protest interrupted proceedings shortly after 10pm by sending paper planes decorated with messages onto the chamber floor from the public gallery. They first stood silently with signs which read, “People of WA are ready to defend our human right to peaceful protest.”

 The paper planes were inscribed with the words “This is a harmless thing” and “Peaceful protest is our democratic right” Some Members and Parliament staff were rattled by the stunt. After launching the planes, the campaigners left the gallery without incident.

 “It is cold comfort that the Government did not use the cover of darkness to avoid public and media scrutiny of this draconian proposed legislation by pushing it through in tonight’s marathon sitting,” Ms MacLaren said.

 “We still believe that the Bill should be abandoned or at least sent to a Committee to examine the serious criticisms of it.”

 “The Premier will face a major campaign of opposition from the public if he continues to pursue the passage of this legislation.

 “The alliance that has opposed this Bill since it was introduced in February is very broad, taking in lawyers, farmers, community and church groups and environmental campaigners, and we will be stepping up our campaign in 2016.

 “It’s clear that this law is designed to threaten and intimidate the community such as those now mobilising to save the Beeliar Wetlands from Roe 8.

 “What the Premier has failed to understand is that bully tactics won’t stop Western Australians from defending our precious places or natural, cultural or spiritual heritage.”