CSG protesters could face up to seven years in jail

A group protests against CSG in NSW. Image courtesy of the Northern Star.

A group protests against CSG in NSW. Image courtesy of the Northern Star.

A proposal from the NSW Baird government could send anti-CSG protesters to jail for up to seven years in the state.

The government’s anti-mining interference bill would expand police powers to search protesters who attach themselves to mining equipment, seize their materials and levy fines greater the $5,000 on them.

The bill could also see protesters face criminal charges as well as a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

The aim of the bill is to amend the state’s Crime Act to extend to the crime of “interfering with a mine site” to include hindering a mines equipment - to CSG extraction and exploration sites instead of the existing focus on coal mines.

This comes after more than $75,000 worth of equipment was damaged on Santos sites last week.

New South Wales Minister for Energy Anthony Roberts says the proposed law modernises an old definition of a mine site and that criminal penalties remain unchanged.

“This legislation does not target or criminalise legal, peaceful protesters,” said Mr Roberts.

“It is consistent with our commitments to maintain a balance between the right to peaceful, legal protest and the right of a lawful business to operate.

There has been objections to the proposed law, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that “more than 60 per cent of NSW voters oppose the Baird government’s plans to crack down on anti-mining protests”.

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