On Tuesday the Legislative Council of Victoria passed the Summary Offence Act 2013, which outlaws the right to protest in Victoria, by a vote of 20-18.
From September onwards the police in Victoria will have the power to ‘move on’ groups of people at their will, including those involved in peaceful protests and pickets. Those who refuse to comply with these orders can be issued with fines of $750, exclusion orders, and
jail gaol terms of up to 2 years.
Though clearly aimed at disrupting the Tunnel Picket campaign against the East West Link, in future this law has the potential to be used against anyone – including trade unions and community groups.
Even die-hard conservatives question whether the new laws are too heavy handed. Tim Wilson, former head of the IPA and current Human Rights commissioner told The Age he though the laws were ”excessive”.
”It unnecessarily gives police too much power to move on protesters unjustifiably,” he said. ”I have an issue with the low bar that is being set to give police the powers to move people on.”