Tamara Smith, Greens MP. Photo Contributed
Tamara Smith, Greens MP. Photo Contributed Suze McLeod

Greens member sees red over ‘draconian’ protest penalties

GREENS member for Ballina, Tamara Smith has called on local Nationals MPs, Thomas George and Ben Franklin to cross the floor and opposenew penalties for anti-coal seam gas and coal protesters.

The Baird Government has introduced the Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 that changes the definition of a 'mine site' so that protesters, peaceful or otherwise, against coal and coal seam gas will face jail sentences of up to seven years.

Section 201 of the Crimes Act 1900 was originally intended to stop serious acts of industrial sabotage by protesting mine workers in the 1980s.

The bill before parliament expands the definition to encompass coal seam gas sites and construction sites after the courts ruled that protesters trying to stop the construction of Maules Creek coal mine could not be prosecuted under this section as it was a construction site, not a mine.

"Do Thomas George and Ben Franklin want to see the knitting nannas or other protesters concerned about mining's impact on land and water, thrown into jail for up to seven years?" Ms Smith asked.

"Thomas George and Ben Franklin should pledge to cross the floor and stand up for the democratic right to protest in NSW. 

"If these MPs genuinely care about keeping the Northern Rivers CSG Free and protecting the right to protest, then they should vote that way in Parliament.  

Ms Smith said she will vote against the laws.

"The Greens are leading the charge against this draconian crackdown that are clearly designed to intimidate protesters and benefit big mining and gas corporations," she said.