State Opposition will seek to reintroduce a private member’s Bill in the Victorian parliament this week that if passed would re-instate controversial “move-on” powers to police to break up protests.
The Bill proposal comes after large demonstrations by environmental activists outside the International Mining and Resource Conference (IMARC) outside Melbourne’s South Warf convention centre in late October.
Under the proposed laws, protest demonstrations could be dispersed by police if they were deemed to be obstructing traffic on roads or blocking access to businesses.
It would also enable police to pursue “exclusion orders” through the courts that would ban individuals from returning to any area they had been ordered to move on from for up to 12 months. Failure to comply with such an order would carry a two-year jail term.
The laws were first introduced by the Denis Napthine led Coalition state government in 2013 after union picket lines hampered work on developments in the Melbourne CBD and community protests against the proposed $17 billion East West Link tunnel construction project gained momentum.
In early 2014, the Napthine government’s Summary Offences and Sentencing Amendment Bill was passed and itself was the focus of large mass demonstrations until the December state election of that year.
The Andrews Labor Government scrapped the law in 2015 shortly after sweeping into power on the basis that police already possessed the power to direct protestors to vacate public places if there were concerns for property and public safety.
It is expected the government will block the introduction of the Bill.