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Democrats alarmed by anti-Greenpeace bill: Labor and Coalition must rethink strong-arm tactics.

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Media Release

Senator Brian Greig

Australian Democrats

Spokesperson for Law and Justice


September 28, 1999


Democrats alarmed by anti-Greenpeace Bill


Labor and Coalition must re-think strong-arm tactics


The Australian Democrats are alarmed by aspects of the Government’s Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill, currently before the parliament, which favours the petroleum industry and may prevent environment groups from lawfully protesting.


Democrats Law and Justice spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, says parts of the Bill will ensure that environment groups such as Greenpeace are prevented from exercising their right to peacefully protest against the fossil fuels industry.


“We are very concerned that this legislation, supported by the Government and the Opposition, is targeted, in part, at trying to stop environmentalists from peacefully protesting against oil and petrol companies by threatening protesters with excessive fines or imprisonment,” Senator Greig said.


Senator Greig says the legislation carries a penalty of ten years imprisonment for acts of trespass “in connection with petroleum exploration”, in addition to the penalties for trespass which already apply under federal law.


The legislation includes the provision for a much wider application of criminal penalties, and could even mean imprisonment for interfering with operations carried out in connection with petroleumrelated activities.


“This means for example, that people protesting from a wharf about an oil rig near the Great Barrier Reef, who may delay or prevent equipment being supplied to that rig or ship out at sea, could face up to ten years imprisonment,” Senator Greig said.


“The possible wide application of this legislation, combined with the additional penalty of imprisonment, is excessive and goes well beyond what is necessary to protect the safe operation of an offshore structure and its employees.


“Entry onto a production or exploration facility is already covered by the common law tort of trespass, similar to that which applies to trespass onto another person’s property — be it on land or at sea.


“There is no reason why the law should be weighted so heavily in favour of one particular industry against another’s right to peaceful protests,” Senator Greig said.




Contacts: Senator Brian Greig, 02 6277 3338 or Di Graham on 0409 089 159




al  1999-09-30  10:47