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February 5, 2023

Calls to reverse NSW anti-protest laws

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Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco being arrested.

The harsh sentencing of Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco for stopping a lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April this year has led to a range of protests and the call to reverse NSW anti-protest laws by lawyer and Greens NSW Legislative Council Member Sue Higginson.

Violet Coco has received a 15-month sentence with an eight month non-parole period and not allowing bail pending an appeal in March next year has been labled as ‘disproportionate’ by human rights advocates.

‘I’ve represented hundreds of activists and protestors in criminal courts across australia – and I’ve never seen laws and punishment so shocking as this. Violet Coco is the victim of the Coalition and Labor’s harsh, draconian and dangerous anti-protest laws,’ said Ms Higginson.

As well as being an environmental lawyer, Sue Higgins is also a Northern Rivers rice farmer and Greens NSW Legislative Council Member. Photo supplied.

Addressing the Legaslitive Council in May this year Ms Higgins said:

‘Democracy and good governance rest upon a foundation of civil and political rights. The health and strength of a democracy is reflected in the way we treat and respect those acting peacefully for environmental and social justice. Over the past decade the Liberal/Nationals Coalition has taken a sledgehammer to our democracy by eroding tolerance, respect and the rights of those who are working selflessly for our benefit and change. 

‘In 2014 former Liberal Premier Mike Baird said to a private audience of the Minerals Council at their Mining Awards dinner, which was being hosted right here in the New South Wales Parliament, that he would “crack down” on civil disobedience and “throw the book” at people who engage in acts of civil disobedience to protect the environment and our planet.’

Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco.

Voice your support

This Saturday there is a rally in support of Coco in Lismore. It is being held on the 75th UN International Human Rights Day and people are gathering from 10.30am until midday at the Peace Park in Ballina Road, Lismore on Widjabul Wiyabul Country to raise their concerns about the use of NSW government’s new anti-protest legislation, passed with the support of the Labor opposition.

You can also put your name on the campaign to ‘reverse NSW anti-protest laws’ that is currently running.

‘The right to peacefully protest is crucial to a functioning democracy,’ says Ms Higgins. 

‘In courts all across Australia I have represented hundreds of members of our community who have engaged in acts of civil disobedience where their actions to protect the environment have transcended a law – normally a summary offence such as trespass or obstruction,’ said Ms Higgins in May.

‘I stand here, hand on heart, and tell all that not one of those people I have represented is selfish, nor has what they have done been stupid. In all instances they have been outstanding, selfless members of our community. More often than not they are the volunteers of our community, the people who assist the disadvantaged amongst us in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, women’s refuges and youth centres. They are the people who volunteer with Landcare groups and Clean Up Australia; they are wildlife carers; and they are also teachers, doctors, First Nations people, nurses, artists, students and church leaders.

‘Every time I have represented such people the court remarks on their good character and their motivation for taking the action they did. In every single instance it is because they care about the world we are living in and they want to make it safer and better for everyone, for future generations and, of course, for those living things that have no voice whatsoever.’

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  1. It always the same response from pollies – Shoot the Messenger, Ignore the Issue.
    Like when the school kiddies were on the charge, out came the pollies squawking their lines of school kiddies should be in school learning. They learning very well thank you very much, that climate change is existential threat and they going to doing something, much to the utter embarrassment of the pollies.
    If pollies act, then there would be no need for civil disobedience.

    I’ve taken up the invitation and put me name down in support of scrapping of the current abomination, that is anti-protest laws.

  2. What of the people who were stuck in traffic who couldn’t get to work or make their appointments or go to a toilet ?
    If you were in that line of traffic that time of day burning very expensive fuel not knowing how long your wait would be, how would you judge her ?
    The punishment is a message to others to expect the same if they choose to go down the same path .
    I find it interesting that she chose to protest the use of the same fuel she used in her motor vehicle to drive to Sydney .
    If politicians did what we paid them for there would be no need for public protesting

  3. ‘The right to peacefully protest is crucial to a functioning democracy,’ says Ms Higgins.
    Yes – I agree entirely, as long as non-violent, peaceful assembly is used.
    But here we had a well-trained gang of elites deliberately & repeatedly trying to harm their own country/state by willful sabotage to gain publicity for their cause.
    No, that can never be considered ‘peaceful protest’ Sue.
    It would be considered by any fair-minded observer to be an overtly narcissistic, anti-community action – thus punishable crimes on behalf of that community.

    • Rob L, glad that you in agreement with Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco’s protest – the protest was non-violent, the protest was peaceful. Tick.
      See you at the next climate protest to ‘stop’ the sabotage of the country/planet by the continued addiction to fossil fuel burning.


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