Yesterday Perth had to protest our right just to protest
We're getting meta over here for all the wrong reasons.
Last Sunday saw an impressive 15,000+ people marching the streets of Sydney to send a message to their Premier Mike Baird that they're done with lockout laws, and they're done with them yesterday. It was an impressive display of solidarity over an issue that's effectively killed what was once one of the world's most vibrant nighttime entertainment districts. One of our Sydney contributors went along and you can read a full recap HERE.
Yesterday on the other side of the country at around midday on the steps of Perth's Parliament House, a few hundred people gathered on the steps for a protest of our own, one that feels so odd to type out it's almost laughable. A protest against anti-protest laws. That's correct, the current WA government would like to stop people from being able to disagree with them on an issue, and voicing that concern in any kind of public forum/gathering. If that sounds kinda weird/vague, it's because the proposed law is fucking weird and vague.
The Barnett government is legitimately trying to outlaw a 'thing'. It'd be funny if it wasn't so ridiculous. The anti-protest laws, introduced as a bill last March, propose that law enforcement authorities only need to suspect that some kind of "thing" might be used to prevent a lawful activity, with the onus being on the 'thing-haver' (you can't make this up) to prove its not the case. If you can't prove innocence (a scary reversal of the traditional onus of proof), you're looking at a year in jail or $12K fine up to two years/$24K in fines.
It's been condemned by the United freaking Nations, heavily, since it was first introduced last year, yet the Barnett government marches forward in the hope it will deter "extreme" protestors for using extreme "things" like chaining themselves to a tree, for instance. Or, say you're a farmer who is against fracking on your land, locking your own gate...
So yesterday a few hundred people gathered on the steps to protest the anti-protest laws. Labor leader Mark McGowan spoke, saying he's against the legislation and if it goes through will repeal it if Labor are voted in at the next election, while Greens MLC Lynn McLaren also spoke, and beforehand said to New Matilda - "This is about recognising that our rights are at risk: Our simple basic rights to dissent from public policy – to stand up and speak our minds and peacefully protest against government decisions – is at risk."
Like, for instance, the ability to gather 15,000 mates and go for a walk through your city to try and communicate as loudly (and peacefully) as possible, that you're not happy with current government legislation.