Protestors at Invasion Day 2024 Rallies in Perth

Submission: NSW Reviews of the Roads Act and the Crimes Act

Amnesty International Australia has made two submissions to New South Wales’ review of its anti-protest laws.

The Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (NSW), amending the Roads Act 1993 (NSW) and the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), was passed in NSW Parliament in April 2022 following protests in Sydney by climate activists, with the stated objective to strike a balance between the right to protest and the public’s right to move freely. The amended bill significantly expanded provisions criminalising damage or obstruction to major infrastructure, with protestors facing up to a $22,000 fine and/or prison for a maximum of two years. In practice, it effectively criminalised all protests without authorisation on public roads, bridges, tunnels, rail lines and industrial estates throughout the state.

All governments, including NSW, bear a responsibility to uphold and protect the right to
protest. This means they should not interfere with protests unless there is a legitimate threat to the
safety and rights of others. If police try to stop or limit a protest, that intervention must be
proportionate and necessary, or in other words, must do more good than harm and must be the
least rights-restricting option.

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