Government to “throw the book” at mine protestors

NSW Premier Mike Baird said new legislation will work to crackdown on activists who enter mine sites illegally.

Speaking at a NSW Minerals Council Awards dinner last night, Baird said protestors had been getting away with acting up for too long.

The premier said it was unacceptable that mining companies were responsible for the safety of people who entered their sites illegally.

"For too long protesters have entered mining sites, illegally damaged equipment and disrupted activity and escaped serious penalties.

“What is even more galling for the ­industry is that current legislation puts the responsibility for the safety of trespassers who enter mining sites illegally on to mining companies and operators

"We need legislation which provides a real deterrent to this unlawful behaviour and protects businesses from illegal protesting activities.”

Baird said his government would introduce the legislation if it won the 2015 election.

Tasmania has also begun down this same path, with the introduction of the Workplace (Protection from Protestors) Bill 2014.

The proposed Act is aimed at protecting workplaces and workers from "radical protestors" who seek to make a point by "destorying livelihoods", Tasmanian minister for resources, Paul Harriss said.

The Act will carry a maximum penalty for repeat offenders of four years imprisonment, as well as fines of up to $10,000 for individuals.
“As a result, Tasmania will now have the strongest legislation in the country to protect the rights of workers to lawfully earn a living, while ensuring the right to free speech and legitimate protest have been protected,” Harriss said.
“A clear message has been sent to radical protesters, to the workers in the forest and mining industries whose livelihoods they have tried to destroy… No longer will Tasmania tolerate the extremists; you may have your say but you may not stop workers from earning a living.”
The bill originally included mandatory sentencing of three months, however that was scrapped to assist passage through the upper house.

The NSW planning system is also set for an overhaul, with the premier promising to halve the time it takes to approve major infrastructure projects.

"I am tonight drawing a line in the sand on this. NSW must do better and I assure you we will," Baird said.

"I commit to halving the assessment times for major projects during the next term of government."

Image: @FLACCoal 

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