We Australians face a worrying trend as State Governments adopt new legislation that undermines our right to peaceful protest, in turn eroding our most fundamental democratic freedoms. UN Special Rapporteurs have described this legislation as a breach in international law.
In New South Wales, for example, farmers who seek to protect scarce water resources from pollution by coal seam gas companies now face fines of up to $5,500 and jail for up to 7 years for protesting peacefully on site.
In Tasmania, individuals face significant penalties – fines of up to $10,000 or up to 4 years in prison – for peacefully protesting the clearance of ancient forests, home to hundred-year-old trees and many endangered species, and for asking that they be protected for our children and children’s children.
In these States, it is now illegal to fight to protect our natural heritage – our ancient growth forests, wild coastline, red deserts, temperate rainforests, and Great Barrier Reef.
We are forced to ask who is the beneficiary of this legislation? Does it serve our citizens and communities or privilege a few wealthy individuals and multinational corporations – those who have the power to advance their vested interests and have them written into law without appropriate public oversight?
We have entered an era where elected officials who restrict our rights as citizens no longer represent the needs of civil society. These politicians have lost the ability to make decisions for the common good. They have forgotten that they represent citizens and communities and that they are stewards of our shared environment.
Patagonia Australia unequivocally opposes legislation restricting the freedom of expression and assembly that are the birthright of free citizens.
Patagonia Australia is a for-profit corporation, but we are also a mission-driven enterprise working to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. We call on our fellow citizens to join us and insist on the right to peaceful protest.
This simple, hard-won freedom, under attack by politicians on behalf of the few, is critical to our ability to safeguard the health and well-being of our families and our communities. And restricting our right to peaceful protest risks the loss of a liveable environment for future generations.
Join us by sending a letter to Premier Hodgman in Tasmania and Premier Berejiklian in New South Wales, urging them to repeal these laws and protect our right to peaceful protest.
If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.