The Queensland government has been accused of protecting the interests of businesses over those of people and the planet as well as making unfounded claims about traps set by climate change protestors as they brought in new laws giving police new powers to search protestors suspected of having ‘lock on’ devices.
State premier Annastacia Palaszczuk claimed in parliament that the protestors were using ‘sinister tactics’ to potentially injure those trying to free them. However, the footage distributed via social media to support her claims has been identified as a concrete cylinder from a protest in January 2018 that ‘contained “metal and pipes” and was potentially dangerous’ but the police ‘made no allegation the intent of the protesters was malicious or to cause injury’ according to The Guardian.
Politics failing so what’s left?
‘It is disappointing to see Queensland again following the Jo Bjelke-Petersen path of denigrating and punishing peaceful protestors,’ said local ecologist Dailan Pugh who himself used ‘lock on’ techniques to raise awareness of illegal logging of koala habitat by the NSW Forestry Commission in Gibberagee State Forest in March this year.
‘It is essential that society has a relief valve for people to be able to peacefully, and strongly, act on their beliefs.
‘The urgency of the climate and extinction crises requires that people stand up and speak out to demand that our governments take immediate and meaningful action to redress them. Decades of inaction have worsened the unfolding catastrophe and it is essential for our future that we turn it around this decade,’ he said.
‘The political process has failed us, so the only option left is civil disobedience. While lock-ons may be an inconvenience to authorities they are an effective, legitimate and necessary means of non-violent protest.’
Murray Drechsler an Extinction Rebellion actavist points out the under the Mike Beard government similar laws were brought into NSW in 2016.
‘New laws for protesting is nothing new, it means we are being effective in hurting business,’ says Mr Drechsler.
‘But like water over a rock that slowly, slowly gets worn away over time – our rights get eroded away, the same rights our ancestors fought and died for.’
Peaceful protest an essential right
The saving of Terania Creek and other forests in and around the northern rivers as well as protests against coal seam gas (CSG) have all used peaceful non-violet protests to push governments to reconsider their positions in these issues.
‘Forty years ago this month this community resorted to direct action to protect Terania Creek, and 30 years ago this month it was to stop roading through an aboriginal site to log rainforest in the North Washpool Wilderness. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s this community stood up for Blackbutt Plateau, Whian Whian, Nullum, Mebbin and Wollumbin,’ says Mr Pugh.
‘Most recently in 2013 and 2014 this community had to take the government on over CSG mining, with blockades at Glenugie, Doubtful Creek and Bentley. People had to lock-on to stop it.
‘Most of the community would now agree that the protection of those forests and stopping CSG were worthwhile, though they were only achieved by direct action. It is not in society’s interests to allow governments to suppress non-violent dissent and create police states.’