The Napthine regime is trying to amend the Summary Offences and Sentencing Act, ramming an Bill through Parliament that will criminalise dissent. Under the guise of ‘combating alcohol-fuelled violence’ the amendments to the Act smuggle with them a string of anti-democratic measures designed to limit freedom of expression and movement.
The amendments are wrapped up in purposefully ambiguous language which give police the ability to move on or arrest protestors at their own discretion. Through this Bill, the Napthine government is seeking to give police extra powers, including:
➢ heightened abilities to arrest—even pre-emptively—peaceful protestors;
➢ the beefing up of ‘move on’ orders;
➢ an arsenal of harsh fines;
➢ and, a possible two year gaol term!
… and all for peacefully expressing an opinion!
Summary of the amendment bill (13 pages)
C. Statement of Compatibility
This explains how this amendment is deemed compatible with the Victoria Human Rights Charter.
"The Bill will provide the Police and Protective Service Officers with further grounds to direct people to move on from public places. Additional move on powers will include where a person: has committed an offence; causes others to hold a reasonable apprehension of violence; is causing, or is likely to cause, an unreasonable obstruction to others; is in a public place to procure or supply drugs; or is impeding another person from lawfully entering or leaving premises. The Bill makes clear that move on powers relating to unlawful conduct - including impeding access to / egress from premises - apply at protests and pickets. Currently, move-on powers can keep a person away from a public place for up to 24 hours. New provisions will enable police to apply to the Magistrates’ Court for an exclusion order against an individual for up to 12 months where that person has been repeatedly moved on from the same public place. The second component of the Bill delivers on the Government’s election commitment to ban those convicted of alcohol-fuelled violence from licensed premises for two years."
New Matilda, 21st January, 2014, Adam Brereton
Victoria Goes After Protest And Picket Rights
The Age, 12th December, 2013, Jane Lee
New law to expand police powers to 'move on' protesters
Guardian, 21st Tuesday, January 2014, Oliver Milman
Victoria police powers to remove protesters 'a risk to free speech'
The Guardian, 29th January, 2014, Asher Wolf
Victoria's new anti-protest bill is a threat to our freedom of assembly
The amendments propose removing the following key component of the current Summary Offences Act 1966.
SUMMARY OFFENCES ACT 1966 - SECT 6
Direction to move on
S. 6 (1) amended by No. 43/2011 s. 48(2).
5) This section does not apply in relation to a person who, whether in the company of other persons or not, is—
(a) picketing a place of employment; or
(b) demonstrating or protesting about a particular issue; or
(c) speaking, bearing or otherwise identifying with a banner, placard or sign or otherwise behaving in a way that is apparently intended to publicise the person's view about a particular issue.
What to do
This Bill needs to be understood as part of a global war on dissent. It is seeking to craft authoritarian and exclusionary laws that are aimed at limiting the rights of freedom of expression, movement and the right to peaceful assembly.
This Bill is designed to severely limit nonviolent direct action, and thus, ironically, the best way to oppose it is via nonviolent direct action.
> Another rally is organised for the 18th of February.
There are other tactics by which you can oppose the Bill, such as by signing this petition against the bill or writing to your local Member of Parliament.
Above all, spread awareness, tell other people about what is happening and what we can do about this offensice bill!
For more details, contact victoria @ iopsociety.org