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October 22, 2021

7 years’ jail for democratic protest: welcome to NSW

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Northern Rivers Guardians’ Scott Sledge at the main entrance to Metgasco’s planned tight sands drill site at Bentley. Photo Wayne Penn
The Bentley blockade would be illegal under new laws planned by the NSW Government, designed to favour coal mining magnates and CSG companies. Photo Wayne Penn

Chris Dobney

According to the Greens’ Jeremy Buckingham, the state’s controversial new legislation targeting coal-mine and CSG protesters could see the Knitting Nannas jailed for up to seven years for their efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the state.

Democratic protest is everyone’s right in Australia except –we’re now told – anyone who questions miners’ rights.

Let’s have a look at what else attracts a seven-year prison sentence in the state.

One-punch attacks are high on the list. Shaun McNeill was sentenced to 7.5 years for the one-punch killing of Daniel Christie on New Year’s Eve 2013.

The Nannas would also likely be in the company of child sex offenders.

Former Bega Cheese boss Maurice Van Ryn was initially sentenced to seven years for the abuse of nine boys and girls between the ages of eight and 15, although this was later increased on appeal by the Crown.

However, until recently, the crime of aggravated indecent assault against a child aged under 16 carried a maximum penalty of seven years.

Fraud seems to be another crime that often commands a seven-year sentence.

So-called finance expert Anthony James Dixon was last year convicted of running a sophisticated tax scam which cost the government about $135 million. He was sentenced to seven years in jail but, fortunately for Anthony, the judge allowed for time already served.

Many other crimes carry minimum sentences of less than seven years including robbery, burglary, kidnapping, importing child pornography and computer crime.

Manslaughter carries a minimum sentence of one year, depending on the circumstances.

Assault of an elderly, blind, disabled, pregnant, or mentally retarded person, second degree with a firearm, carries a maximum sentence of just five years.

So the Knitting Nannas would be in good company.

And, as Mr Buckingham points out, the legislation the government is looking at amending to protect is mates in the mining industry was originally written in very different circumstances.

‘Section 201 of the Crimes Act 1900 was originally intended to stop serious acts of industrial sabotage by protesting mine workers in the 1980s, but 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,’ Mr Buckingham says.

This kind of draconian legislation that turns ordinary law abiding citizens into criminals stinks of politicians doing favours for their mates in the mining industry.

It makes Mike Baird look like Joh Bjelke Petersen, or worse.

It is unlikely that people of conscience demonstrating in the Pilliga, Breeza or Maules Creek will be deterred by it.

The government must immediately withdraw this ridiculous amendment or face a lot more overcrowded prisons.

Labor must join the Greens in speaking out about it – and voting against it if it should come to that.

Chris Dobney is the editor of Echonetdaily.

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  1. Time to give the fossil fuel autocrats a taste of their own medicine by divesting:

    1) Bank account – switch to a credit union
    2) Super – move to Future Super, Australian Ethical Super or UniSuper (for university employees and their partners only)
    3) Investment fund – go with Hunter Hall or Australian Ethical Investment
    4) Home loan – try Future Home Loans (brokerage)
    5) Electricity – switch to 100% GreenPower, sign up with Powershop or Diamond Energy (both highest ranked in the Green Electricity Guide.)

  2. this type of corrupt legislation going unchallenged by Police who should have arrested the criminals who attempted to enact it, shows just how far this country has degraded and just how stupid and supportive of organized crime Australian police have become.

  3. Mike Baird shows his leadership by getting tough on the key challenges facing the state:

    Marijuana smokers – TICK
    Cyclists – TICK
    Partygoers and revellers – TICK
    Anti-gas protestors – TICK


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