New South Wales Police arrested a young housing activist at midnight on February 18 after a housing protest at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and the Reserve Bank of Australia in Martin Place the day before.
The protest, organised by Socialist Alternative campus groups, was held in Martin Place and was aimed at highlighting the lack of housing security and affordability.
University of NSW Student Representative Council Education Officer Cherish Kuehlmann was detained for four hours, before the charges of “aggravated trespass” were even read to her.
Her bail conditions mean she is not allowed into the CBD. She will attend court on March 8, where she intends to challenge the conditions.
The Guardian reported on February 22 that a police sheet it had seen alleged the group had not signed a “Form 1” public assembly notification, and that some protesters had entered to the CBA to protest.
Rachel Evans from Socialist Alliance said the NSW Police were able to take such extreme measures because the anti-protest laws allowed for it. “This arrest of an activist was ridiculous and another reason that democratic groups need to challenge the major parties to rescind this law.
“The right to protest should be a fundamental human right,” Evans said. “Without it, reforms would never be made. “Incredibly, Labor supported this anti-democratic law. An alliance of civil liberties and unions has called on Labor to rescind the law if it wins in March.”
Evans is running for the Socialist Alliance in Heffron and is been active in the movement to get these laws scrapped.
[The National Union of Students and Get a Room have called a Fix the Rental Crisis: Make Housing Affordable protest on February 24 at Sydney Town Hall.]