Victoria just passed a new law
HOLY SHIT! Victoria has just passed a law that will allow police to legally ‘move on’ peaceful protesters, and to arrest them if they fail to comply. i.e. If you’re a protester, you could be arrested if you are:
causing, or likely to cause, an undue obstruction to another person or persons or traffic”
And you could be arrested if your conduct:
is causing a reasonable apprehension of violence in another person”
No evidence required
There were already laws governing ‘move on’, but they weren’t as broad. Previously you could be moved on only if you were:
- breaching or likely to breach the peace;
- endangering or likely to endanger the safety of any other person; or
- behaving in a way that was likely to cause injury to a person or damage to property or is otherwise a risk to public safety.
See the difference? Now you can be moved on if you get in someone’s way or someone says they’re frightened of you.
Plus, previously, you couldn’t be arrested for failing to move on when asked. These new laws can see you arrested for accidentally impeding someone on the sidewalk or for simply looking scary! No evidence required. According to the Fitzroy Legal Service:
A reasonable suspicion is a very low threshold that would not in the ordinary course justify arrest or criminal charges. Through these laws a reasonable suspicion may ultimately result in incarceration.”
So if my 6ft 1inch, hairy, poorly dressed, but overwhelmingly passive mass causes someone to step out of my way in a peaceful protest, I could be arrested!
Specifically targets protesters
Just in case you’re thinking that’s unlikely, consider this. One of the changes they made was to remove a bit from the existing law that made an exception for demonstrators and protesters. The following key component of the current Summary Offences Act 1966 was removed:
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.
This shows they’re specifically targeting protesters. This is a calculated attack on our freedom to dissent.
When will the other states follow suit?
I’ve heard people talking about Australia becoming a police state, but I’ve never really believed it. I do now. 🙁