Australians could face decades in prison for protesting peacefully

Youth_climate_action

Legislation about to hit the Australian Parliament could criminalise those participating in peaceful protests to defend our future and human rights. Australians could face decades in prison for protesting peacefully.

By Gemma at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Throughout history, everyday people have taken part in peaceful protests like rallies to stand up for the issues they care about - like climate change, women’s rights or land rights. But legislation about to hit the Parliament could criminalise those participating in peaceful protests to defend our future and human rights. [1]

With support from the Government and the Labor Party, this could be law as early as next week, restricting our ability to speak out for a safe climate future by criminalising forms of peaceful protest. If these laws go through, Australians could face decades in prison for protesting peacefully in certain places or damaging Australia’s international reputation. That means a young person in a Nemo suit rallying outside an MP’s office could be sent to jail for speaking up for climate justice. [2]

Stand up and protect the right to protest: Call Mark Dreyfus now and add your message.

This is one of three toxic bills that the Coalition Government proposed last year in an attack on charitable organisations. Malcolm Turnbull and far-right members of the Government are trying to attack the rights of charities and citizens through legislation that would force groups like the AYCC and Seed to follow impossible reporting, fundraising and campaigning restrictions. Meanwhile, big businesses would be exempt from any such requirements. [3]

Malcolm Turnbull, Attorney General Christian Porter and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton want to criminalise protest and attack the rights of citizens and charities. We can’t allow this to happen. Labor MPs, as well as champions in the Liberal party who support freedom of expression, must amend this Bill or risk driving our democracy into authoritarian territory. Right now, Members of Parliament need to feel the weight of public pressure to protect the right to protest. As Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus is a key decision-maker in determining how the Labor Party votes when this legislation hits Parliament.

Coal and gas companies want these laws to go ahead, so that they can continue with their business plans that wreck our climate, while public opposition is shut down. If we are silenced by this trio of toxic bills, then they will have free reign to pollute more than ever before and wreck our Great Barrier Reef. These bills are a blatant attempt to stop everyday citizens from speaking up and criticising the government, while allowing a free pass for multinational coal companies to continue to walk the halls of government and influence as they please.

It’s still unclear exactly how these laws would be enforced or the full extent of what they could mean for organisations like us. The generous support of people like you in our Hands Off Our Future crowdfunder earlier this year means we have the resources to continue researching, lobbying politicians and mobilising young people to make a stand against these laws. Thank you.

We know that injustice happens when ordinary people stand by and do nothing - so we need to use every platform we’ve got to call out decision-makers who are trying to take away our right to protest and support campaigns for a better future.

Let’s keep up the fight!

Gemma for the AYCC and Seed team

P.S. You can read more about the proposed laws here.

[1] https://thirdsector.com.au/truly-terrifying-what-the-foreign-espionage-bill-means-for-not-for-profits/
[2] https://thirdsector.com.au/truly-terrifying-what-the-foreign-espionage-bill-means-for-not-for-profits/
[3] http://www.aycc.org.au/charities_bills_explainer

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition is a youth led, not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to build a movement of young people leading solutions to solve the climate crisis.

The AYCC team acknowledge that we work, live and play on Aboriginal land. We recognise the incredible leadership of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network in fighting for climate justice.

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