Protesters in South Australia could be issued $50,000 fines or three months imprisonment under new anti-protest laws introduced to the state’s Parliament this week.
The laws would apply to protesters who “intentionally or recklessly” obstruct the normal functioning of a public place.
The previous maximum penalty was a $750 fine.
What’s the context of the anti-protest laws?
The new laws were drafted following protests in Adelaide this week. They centred around a conference of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
Protests were staged outside the conference, with some suspending themselves from a bridge to disrupt traffic flow in the Adelaide CBD.
Demonstrations also occurred outside the building of Santos, a major oil and gas exploration company. Protesters have been accused of smearing paint and graffiti on the building.
Further details on the new laws
The anti-protest laws were introduced by the SA Government on Thursday and passed the Lower House of Parliament on the same day.
Those who “indirectly” contribute to disruption in a public place could also be subject to the new penalties.
Paying the costs and expenses to repair damage caused by a protester could also be ordered
by a court.
What about the rest of Australia?
Several Australian states have passed laws in recent years to restrict protests.
This includes NSW, Victoria, and Tasmania, which all passed tougher penalties for obstructive protests last year. They’ve been opposed by many protest groups and some human rights organisations.
Laws in NSW were added following climate protests that blocked key transport networks across Sydney.