Qld to outlaw traffic-stopping devices

Protesters who use devices to lock themselves together and make it harder to be removed from Queensland roads and train tracks could soon face prison time and hefty fines.

The state Labor government will outlaw items like steel cylinders or drums filled with concrete under new laws to be introduced by the end of the year.

Protesters caught using them will face up to two years in prison or a $6,500 fine, and up to one year behind bars or a $2,600 fine for possessing them.


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Police will also be given powers to search people and vehicles they suspect are carrying a list of items that is still being worked out.

Dozens of Extinction Rebellion climate protesters have been arrested in recent weeks but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament on Tuesday she believes new laws are needed.

Those protesters want communities to collectively find solutions that would lead to zero carbon emissions by 2025, the preservation of biodiversity and the truth being told about global heating.

They say stopping traffic makes people take notice of the issue and is necessary action to avoid extinction.

But the premier doesn’t like those tactics, describing them as reckless and selfish.

Police say the cylinders and drums used to bring thoroughfares to a standstill can contain pieces of glass and butane gas containers that could injure those who try to cut the protesters out.

“The activities of some are not peaceful, they’re not right and I’m not going to let them continue,” Ms Palaszczuk told parliament on Tuesday.

Police Minister Mark Ryan has branded such protesters as “extremists” who don’t share the values of democracy, like respect for the law and the rights of others.

“This government will bring in measures to disrupt the actions of those who believe their rights can ride roughshod over the rights of others,” he said.

However the global movement’s southeast Queensland arm says claims protesters are booby-trapping devices are baseless, and doing so would go against their non-violent principles.

“It is not okay to misrepresent peaceful protest, and silence dissent through fear tactics,” it said in a statement.

Greens MP Michael Berkman said the move was a steady creep on people’s right to take part in civil disobedience, and an effort to silence dissent.

It comes as Agricultural Industry Development Minister Mark Furner gets ready to introduce a bill imposing tougher penalties for protesters who trespass.

He says protesters don’t have the right to trespass, lock themselves to machinery or disrupt the agricultural sector.

Those found guilty of trespassing on farm land would face a maximum penalty of up to a year behind bars once the bill becomes law.

Earlier this year the state government allowed police and biosecurity officers to issue on-the-spot fines of $652.17 to activists on top of existing trespass penalties.

It followed a spate of animal rights protests on farms and abattoirs.

© AAP 2019