Greens order transparency from Gov on draconian anti-protest legislation

Abigail successfully ordered a call for papers today, demanding the Government tell us what external advice they received in the lead up to their ramming through anti-protest legislation in March.

Production of Documents: Order

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (17:35): I move:

That, under Standing Order 52, there be laid upon the table of the House within 21 days of the date of passing of this resolution the following documents created since 1 January 2022, in electronic form if possible, in the possession, custody or control of the Premier, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Attorney General, the Department of Communities and Justice, the Minister for Transport and Minister for Veterans, the Minister for Metropolitan Roads and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Transport for NSW, the Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales and Minister for Police, or the NSW Police Force, relating to anti-protest legislation:

(a)all documents relating to the Roads Amendment (Major Bridges and Tunnels) Regulation 2022, including but not limited to:

(i)all emails, text messages, correspondence and other documents relating to drafting of the regulation;

(ii)all correspondence, minutes and records relating to meetings held about the regulation;

(iii)all legal advice and communication with external or departmental legal advisers;

(iv)all correspondence relating to the operational and policing aspects of the regulation; and

(v)briefings relating to Legislative Council debate on the disallowance of the regulation on 31 March 2022.

(b)all documents relating to the Roads and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, including but not limited to:

(i)all emails, text messages, correspondence and other documents relating to drafting of the bill;

(ii)all correspondence, minutes and records, relating to meetings held about the bill;

(iii)all legal advice and communication with external or departmental legal advisers;

(iv)all correspondence relating to the operational and policing aspects of the bill; and

(v)all briefings relating to Legislative Council debate in the House and committee of the whole on the bill on 31 March 2022 and 1 April 2022.

(c)all documents relating to the Roads Amendment (Major Bridges and Tunnels) Regulation (No 2) 2022, including but not limited to:

(i)all emails, text messages, correspondence and other documents relating to drafting of the regulation;

(ii)all documentation, including correspondence and minutes, relating to meetings held about the regulation;

(iii)all legal advice and communication with external or departmental legal advisers; and

(iv)all correspondence relating to the operational and policing aspects of the regulation.

(d)all documents relating to the Roads Amendment (Major Roads) Regulation 2022, including but not limited to:

(i)all emails, text messages, correspondence and other documents relating to drafting of the regulation;

(ii)all documentation, including correspondence and minutes, relating to meetings held about the regulation;

(iii)all legal advice and communication with external or departmental legal advisers; and

(iv)all correspondence relating to the operational and policing aspects of the regulation.

(e)all documents relating to the Crimes Amendment (Major Facilities) Regulation 2022, including but not limited to:

(i)all emails, text messages, correspondence and other documents relating to drafting of the regulation;

(ii)all documentation, including correspondence and minutes, relating to meetings held about the regulation;

(iii)all legal advice and communication with external or departmental legal advisers; and

(iv)all correspondence relating to the operational and policing aspects of the regulation.

(f)any legal or other advice regarding the scope or validity of this order of the House created as a result of this order of the House.

This order for papers is deeply necessary in order to assist us in understanding exactly what the process was in formulating the Roads and Crimes Act 2022 and related regulations, after the Act was rushed through at the start of April this year. The legislation was roundly condemned by a coalition of 40 leading civil society organisations who disputed its constitutionality and its legal and ethical foundations. The legislation was undeniably controversial, and regardless of one's instinctive support for or opposition to the legislation, it will be illuminating for all members to fully understand the process that was undertaken in developing the legislation, which has been condemned by organisations like the Human Rights Legal Centre, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and also Unions NSW and its constituent member unions. I have been seeking clarity from the Government as to what process was undertaken. The Minister for Metropolitan Roads, the instigator of this legislation, was in many ways its public face. On 31 March I asked her:

What external legal advice did the New South Wales Government obtain in relation to the legality or otherwise of the draconian anti‑protest laws otherwise known as the Roads Amendment (Major Bridges and Tunnels) Regulation 2022 before it was made?"

The Minister sought to avoid answering the question directly, but when called back to the question, the Minister could only tell us that she had asked the advice of her department before signing off on the regulation. It would be gravely concerning if that sloppy, inadequate process, lacking the appropriate due diligence that this astonishing assault on our democratic rights deserves, was common to the legislation and regulations that followed it shortly thereafter.

This order for papers will also give us some oversight over what consultation occurred between the Government and the NSW Police Force in the lead-up to the legislation being rushed into place, as well as what was communicated to the police after it was put in place as to how to interpret and enforce the new laws. I asked Commissioner Webb about that process during budget estimates and received unsatisfactory and incomplete answers. In response to a question taken on notice it became apparent that there were multiple instances of statewide messages to all police as to how to interpret this new power, which we deserve the right to see and understand. I also hope that we will be able to see what specific advice may have been served to operatives within the newly formed strike force aimed at targeting peaceful protesters. That was the same police strike force that initiated the militarised raid on a camp of campaigners on the weekend following covert surveillance on private property, the legal basis of which is currently disputed as a warrant for the surveillance is yet to be made public. The encroachment of police powers into our civil society must be fully understood, assessed and debated by all members of Parliament. This order for papers will hopefully give us some understanding as to the basis on which those decisions and recent actions have been made. I commend the motion to the House.

 

Abigail's motion received a majority vote and the call for papers was successfully passed!

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