Knitting Nannas win court challenge

Local Knitting Nannas members protesting in Coffs Harbour in 2022.

‘KNITTING Nannas’ Helen Kvelde and Dominique Jacobs have won a significant victory for the right to protest in NSW, with the Supreme Court finding offences established under the former Government’s anti-protest regime unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court ruled that sections 214A (1) (c) and (d) of the NSW Crimes Act “impermissibly burden the implied freedom of political communication contrary to the Commonwealth Constitution”.

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The laws, passed in April 2022 after a series of climate protests, allowed for people to be fined $22,000 or sentenced
to two years in prison for causing damage or disruption to a major facility, main roads or highways.

Greens MP and spokesperson for justice, Sue Higginson said, “These draconian laws were brought in when climate protests were fighting tooth and nail to get the government to act on climate change and instead of listening, the Minister for Transport came into Parliament and rushed in laws aimed at silencing them.”

“The State fought the Knitting Nannas every step of the way, but the brave Knitting Nannas, ably represented by the Environmental Defender Office and expert barristers, prevailed,” she said.

“We have seen protestors targeted, searched, jailed and face harsh restrictive bail conditions under an anti-protest regime that is now showing to be contrary to our fundamental rights of political communication in this country.”

Local Knitting Nannas member Chris Degan said, “We are really pleased, although the judgement didn’t quite go far enough.

“The Knitting Nannas feel that this success will force the government to look at how they are policing peaceful demonstrations.

“The court has shown that peaceful protest is integral to a democratic society.”

Ms Higginson said the laws were brought in by the former Coalition Government with the support of Labor and Premier Minns needs to take steps to repeal the laws and walk back on the serious impingement on democratic rights.

“We need to repeal the anti-protest laws and protect the right to protest in law,” she said.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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