La­bor at war over protest laws

Peak body slams govt fast-track­ing of pro­tester crack­down

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - DOMANII CAMERON

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.

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