‘Extremist’ protesters face jail under new laws
PROTESTERS who lock on to railway lines or block traffic by supergluing themselves to roads could be thrown in jail for two years or fined more than $6000 in tough new laws proposed by the State Government.
The laws proposed by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would give police extra powers to search for "dangerous devices" protesters are commonly using to lock themselves on to rail lines or cause traffic mayhem in cities.
The official definition of these "dangerous devices" will go to consultation, although Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Crawford said the Premier had assured him this legislation could be expanded should protesters come up with new methods.
Under the proposed laws, protesters who use these devices would face up to two years in prison or a maximum $6527 fine while those found in possession could be jailed for up to a year or fined.
A spokeswoman for Adani said it was "commonplace for extremists" to use equipment such as tripods, mono poles, rappelling and abseiling equipment, treesitting or suspension apparatusees, super adhesives, concrete barrels known as "sleeping dragons", bicycle locks around necks, and steel pipes known as "dragon-sleeves" to lock-on to industrial equipment or block rail tracks, roads, and major infrastructure.
"Locking on to live port conveyor belts, earthmoving and mining equipment and rail tracks is not legal or safe for the extremists themselves or the employees and first responders who have to put themselves in harm's way to remove them," she said.
"These tactics rely on dangerous disruption to intimidate and force extremist views on the broader population."
Police Minister Mark Ryan said officers would be given expanded powers to search vehicles of the protesting "extremists" if there was reasonable suspicion to believe they had devices in their possession.
"New tactics emerge where protesters are booby trapping these devices, which can not only cause injuries to themselves but injuries to first responders," he said.
Mr Ryan alleged activists were filling their contraptions with glass or gas canisters to make it harder for police to remove safely.
But activists slammed the State Government for "sensationalist" claims and said hundreds of protesters had locked on to machinery for years without any serious harm to police officers.
An Aurizon spokesman said protesters locking on to train tracks had become a "primary safety concern".
"We don't want our drivers bearing the emotional burden for something that could have been prevented, and potentially being so traumatised they can't return to work or drive a train again," he said.
Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said there was a difference between the right to public protest and criminal acts.