Protesting is a public expression or declaration of objection, disapproval or dissent often against the government or corporations. In New South Wales, the right to protest is protected by the common law’s right to peaceful protest. It is also protected by the Australian Constitution’s implied right of political communication.
While we have the right to protest, it must always be balanced with what is in the public interest and must factor in public safety. Part 4 of the Summary Offences Act 1998 (NSW) requires mutual co-operation between protesters and Police. Protest organises need to apply to the Police Commissioner to conduct a protest. This allows Police time to organise road closures and resources to ensure public safety and the safety of protesters.
New South Wales is well into an extended lockdown, a lockdown that has far exceeded its initial lockdown. Citizens are restless, businesses are on their knees, parents are desperately trying to juggle home schooling with working from home and students are under pressure to perform in a modified HSC.
While it’s only natural that people want to be seen and heard by the Government, to restore their livelihoods and open for business, it is essential that we heed the current health advice. By working together, we can hopefully all be seated around the table at Christmas.