Open Letter against anti-protest laws

Two elderly activists hold a sign reading: Protest is vital to democracy

An open letter condemning the proposed anti-protest laws has been signed by 39 organisations. CounterAct is proud to collaborate with a range of community groups, environmental, social justice, legal and human rights organisations, as well as unions, in fighting against this draconian legislation. Click on the image below to download a copy of the letter.

Threats of 2 years jail for road disruption and visa cancellations an unconscionable attack on protest rights

Last Thursday, the NSW government flagged that it was seeking to introduce legislation that will make disrupting roads, transport and industrial facilities punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a $22,000 fine. This comes after new regulations were introduced, without the opportunity for parliamentary debate, imposing  similar penalties for protests on all Greater Sydney bridges and tunnels.

Protest marchers on city roads and union groups taking action at industrial sites could come under the umbrella of these draconian laws. Everyone from school kids marching for climate action to anti-war protestors would run the risk of incurring these penalties when they set out on a march.

Such laws are incompatible with the democratic right to protest and our fundamental civil liberties. [Organisations] call on the NSW government to cease the introduction of draconian penalties for protests. 

If new anti-protest legislation is introduced, we urge all members of parliament to uphold our democratic rights by voting against the legislation.

Two protestors participating in direct action in Sydney have also had their visas cancelled on the grounds that their presence posed a threat to the ‘good order of the Australian community’. This exercise of the Minister’s power does not seem merited in these circumstances and threatens the ability of people who aren’t citizens to participate in democratic expression and assembly.

We are also deeply concerned by the Acting Premier’s comments criticising protesters for seeking legal advice. Seeking legal advice is a fundamental right and not a basis for legitimate criticism.

These freedoms are a cornerstone of the Australian community. Any crackdown on our capacity to exercise them is a serious threat to democracy.


350 Australia

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT



Amnesty International

Asylum Seekers Centre

Australian Centre for International Justice 

Australian Council of Social Service

Australian Democracy Network 

Australian Forests and Climate Alliance 

Australian Youth Climate Council

Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility

Bellingen Environment Centre

Bob Brown Foundation

Community Legal Centres NSW


Dying with Dignity NSW 

Forest Conservation Victoria

Forest Defence NSW 

Friends of the Earth Australia

Friends of the Forest Mogo

Frontline Action on Coal 

Goongerah Environment Centre

Great Southern Forest

Grata Fund

Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Human Rights Law Centre

Inner City Legal Centre

Jesuit Social Services 

Jumbuna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research

Legal Observers NSW

Medical Association for Prevention of War

Melbourne Activist Legal Support

National Justice Project

Redfern Legal Centre 

South East Region Conservation Alliance Inc

The Sunrise Project

University of Sydney Student Representative Council

WA Forest Alliance

Whitsunday Conservation Council

Youth Support + Advocacy Service