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Gulaptis supports new anti-protest laws

The Independent spoke with Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis about his support for the new anti-protest laws. He said he didn’t “believe that the grassroots opposition to CSG that we saw in the Northern Rivers would be impacted in anyway by the legislation that has just passed”. “[The new laws are] there to protect those protesters who go to extreme measures through aggravated trespass with malicious intent to damage private property,” he said. “They have potential to cause harm to themselves and to an unsuspecting worker, who is working on a site that requires protective equipment. “These laws are targeted at the extreme measures that protesters take. “They are not targeted at peaceful protesters, like the Knitting Nannas out the front of my office. “They are certainly not targeting the thousands of people who were on the adjoining property at Bentley.” He said the Bentley protest was successful because it was a “widespread community protest”, peopled by the likes of “the Knitting Nannas, CWA and farmers, not extremists”. “Peaceful protest is a part of our democracy and I will stand up for that every day,” he said. “When the public goes to extreme measures and puts their lives and others at risk, they also put police lives at risk. “They don’t know what is in the heart and mind of a protester, but they do err on the side of caution … we haven’t seen the police take heavy-handed role in dispersing protesters in this country … in the main, because we don’t see extreme levels of protest.” On the comments made by the Greens MPs, Mr Gulaptis said they “want to latch on to this because they’re looking for political relevance”. He said he doubts that anyone will ever be gaoled for carrying out “hindering activities”, as described by Jeremy Buckingham. “However, the message is out there that we don’t condone extreme behaviour in this country,” he said. “The right to protest is still there; you can still march and object to policies of government. “That’s your right, it will always be your right; but you can’t break the law in doing that, you can’t trespass onto someone else’s property with malicious intent to cause damage.”