The NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee is keen on new anti-protest laws in NSW. He claims to be concerned about the safety of the workers as well as the protesters “illegally accessing mine sites”.
Mining and Energy Minister Antony Roberts has been a little more blunt: he says the new law is aimed at better enforcing the protection of private property and “lawful business activity”.
Most, however, can see through the spin.
Stephen Blanks from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties said the proposed anti-protest laws were “disproportionate” and “unnecessary”.
Sue Higginson from the Environmental Defenders Office described the increase to police powers as “a substantial intrusion on civil liberties”.
Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham described the legislation as “draconian”, adding that it had “nothing to do with safety”.
Neil Kennedy, a farmer from Coonamble who chained himself to the gates of Santos' construction site in the Pilliga last month, said on March 7 that if the government had done its job and protected the Great Artesian Basin from coal seam gas none of us would be having to protest in the Pilliga.
“We're talking about the lifeblood of our community. We don't like having to break the law, but we're forced into it by a government that has failed its own people.
Stewart Murray, a farmer from Narrabri said: “Since the government has utterly failed, we're grateful to people coming to help us stop this CSG madness.
“This is a state-wide and nation-wide issue, so why shouldn't everyone be involved? The government and Santos don't get it.”
He added that the high fines will not stop farmers from protesting against coal seam gas. “We can't stop: we have no choice if we want to protect our families and farms.
“If the government wants to pass new laws to stop mining protests, they should be making a law to make the Pilliga off-limits to coal seam gas”, he concluded.
Greens MLA David Shoebridge has called a protest against the new anti-protest law outside NSW Parliament on March 15 at 12 noon when it is expected to be put to the Legislative Assembly. The Facebook event is here.