Knitting Nannas challenge anti-protest laws in NSW Supreme Court

May 10, 2023
Knitting Nannas outside the NSW Supreme Court. Photo: Rachel Evans

Knitting Nannas and supporters gathered outside the NSW Supreme Court on May 10 to support climate activists and Nannas Dominique Jacobs and Helen Kvelde challenge to New South Wales undemocratic anti-protest laws.

The challenge is being filed by the Environmental Defenders Office which believes the laws are “so broad that a group of people could face serious criminal charges simply by protesting near a railway station and causing people to be redirected around them”.

The Coalition government with the support of Labor amended the Crimes Act to make it an offence to peacefully block major roads, bridges and infrastructure. It contains fines of up to $22,000 and up to two years in prison.

Outside the Supreme Court, Kvelde told Green Left that since she moved to Wingham, near Taree, five years ago, she had seen drought, fires and floods which are “all a result of climate change”.

“If it rains, we get scared. If we see smoke, we get worried. One neighbour, a mum with three kids, is still living in a caravan from the fires. And our situation will only get worse,” Kvelde said.

“We have to protest coal and gas, and it is frightening to see what is happening with these laws.

“Those brave activists on the Harbour Bridge, for example, didn’t hurt anyone. But to be threatened with 22 years jail … is shameful.” This is why we are taking the government to the Supreme Court, the activists said.

The NSW Civil Liberties Council said the Knitting Nannas will ask the Supreme Court to declare these new sections of the Crimes Act 1900 unconstitutional, as they “impermissibly burden the implied freedom of political communication of the NSW community”.

The case will be a test for new Premier Chris Minns, whose party is internally divided on the laws.

[The Supreme Court case is scheduled for May 10 and 11. The Nannas are organising a public gathering to discuss how to build the climate movement on May 12 from 10–12 noon.]

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