The National Party has this week irrevocably taken the part of big mining giants over farmers and rural communities, as they moved ahead to pass anti-protest in the NSW Parliament that will mean landholders could face 7-year jail terms for locking their gates to miners.
In just over a week, more than 20,000 people from across NSW have signed a petition opposing the Baird Government’s controversial anti-protest laws, and the NSW Bar Association and the Law Society have both spoken out about the damaging effect it would have on civil liberties.
Despite the vast opposition, the bill was rushed through Parliament without being referred to a Committee, and without any public consultation.
The Bill was passed through the Lower House and debated in the NSW Upper House late last night, where it was supported by the National Party, Shooters and Fishers party and Christian Democrat Fred Nile, but was opposed by Labor and the Greens. The Bill is likely to be passed today, after consideration of amendments.
Phil Laird, Spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance, said the community does not accept people being silenced in favour of mining and coal seam gas interests.
“The National Party have today nailed their colours to the mast of the mining industry. We expect this to have massive implications for the result in the New England electorate in the upcoming Federal election” Mr Laird said.
“How could the National Party ever justify a seven-year jail term for a landholder who doesn’t want mining on their land and locks their gate?
“The National Party have turned against their own constituents, and they don’t deserve to be re-elected in key rural seats in the upcoming Federal election.
“For years, farmers and landholders have been calling on the NSW government and the National Party to protect their water and land from the worst of the mining industry, never could they have imagined losing basic freedoms over their property instead.
“The National Party and the Baird Government has well and truly lost the community debate, now it has stooped to intimidation and winding back rights to push ahead with mining.
“The basic role of government is to act in the best interests of the community, not enlist the police in silencing communities on having a say on their future” he said.