Labor at war over protest laws
Peak body slams govt fast-tracking of protester crackdown
TENSIONS are brewing after the Palaszczuk Government fast-tracked its crackdown on protesters, with Queensland’s peak union body claiming the laws impinged on people’s right to peacefully protest.
An emergency meeting was held at the Queensland Council of Union’s (QCU) headquarters in Brisbane yesterday, where the body expressed concerns to Police Minister Mark Ryan.
It came ahead of today’s first public hearing for the laws after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the fast-tracking earlier this week in the wake of more protests by Extinction Rebellion.
QCU acting general secretary Michael Clifford said the body believed the laws would antagonise and not discourage protesters.
“Protesters are going to find other ways to protest and in our experience the best way to deal with the protests is to demonstrate that you are serious about addressing the root cause of the problem and engaging in a dialogue,” he said. “Simply dealing with the symptoms is not going to make the issues go away.”
It follows backlash at the Queensland State Labor Conference in August where the powerful Left faction condemned the crackdown.
The move has also been slammed by Greens MP Michael Berkman, who in a Twitter tirade yesterday referred to it as “shoddy, inadequate scrutiny”.
However, Mr Ryan insisted it was normal process.
“The parliament is the master of its own destiny and it determines its own timelines,” he said. “There is nothing being missed out of the proper process.”
The hearing in Brisbane today will be fronted by several bodies, including QCU, the Queensland Resources Council and Lawyers for Climate Action Australia.
Mr Clifford said QCU took issue with the search powers police would be granted and the “broad” definition of a dangerous device. LNP leader D e b Frecklington said there needed to be consequences for protesters who breached bail.
“These serial protesters are breaking the law over and over again without consequences,” she said. “Labor’s proposed laws are also weak, they don’t address bail breaches and won’t work to stop this anarchy. Bail is a privilege, not a right and it needs to be enforced.”
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said Queenslanders were fed up with protesters disrupting their lives and risking community safety.