Thursday, 28 June 2018
National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2018, Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2018; In Committee
Thank you, Minister; I appreciate that. In response, I guess I'd make the obvious point that I'm not convinced that the argument we needed to get these in place for by-elections was anything other than a political argument. I note for the record that the statement of reasons for urgency that was tabled earlier this week by the government did not mention by-elections at all.
Minister, I want to take you now to some of the matters which have been contested between you and me in this debate, and that is the impact of these laws—should they pass as they currently stand—on things like peaceful protest and public interest journalism. I want to go first to the issue of peaceful protest. I note that in your summary on the second reading only moments ago, you were very careful to include the word 'lawful' in what you said, saying that this legislation would not have any impact on someone who was engaged in 'lawful' protests.
I want to remove that word from our discussions, Minister, because, as you know, blockading a road or an entrance gate to a particular industrial facility is actually not lawful; it's unlawful, under current law. So I want to ask, specifically, about those kinds of protests—peaceful, non-violent protests which are not lawful under current law. I think the easiest way for us to do that is to talk about examples. I want to use the example of a person or a group of people who blockade, unlawfully, a road or an access point that leads into a port that is being used for live sheep exports. Could a person or group of people who do that be charged with the sabotage offences currently contained in this legislation?