Northern Territory

Nov 29, 2017

Fate of Pine Gap protesters could set an ugly precedent for free speech

The upcoming sentencing of Pine Gap protesters found guilty under harsh defence laws will signal our commitment to disproportionately penalising dissent, no matter how peaceful.

This month, Felicity Ruby attended two trials at the Alice Springs Supreme Court where two juries found protesters guilty of trespassing at Pine Gap in September 2016. They will be sentenced on December 4, 2017.

The High Court recently struck down Tasmanian anti-protest laws as unconstitutional, reaffirming an implied right of political communication protected by our constitution. Yet Australia remains the only liberal democracy and common law legal system without a bill of rights or legislated human rights act. Those who seek to defend, via protest, citizens' right to political communication and dissent are forced into costly and stressful court challenges -- the latest example having just occurred in the Northern Territory.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions

6 comments

Leave a comment

6 thoughts on “Fate of Pine Gap protesters could set an ugly precedent for free speech

  1. [email protected]

    This is how plea-bargaining works. Occasionally you need to make an example of people in order to scare everyone else into pleading guilty.

    1. AR

      Kill a chicken to frighten the monkeys/pour encourage les autres/shoot one, educate a thousand … etc ad nauseam.
      Not forgetting, ‘imprison them to prevent those drowning’.

      1. [email protected]

        Brilliant, I hope you are highly active and participating in social change movements with a mind like that. One have you rolled over and died?

    2. lykurgus

      No, this is how “Attorneys-General-who-don’t-understand-that-appeals-happen-and-that-legislation-can-be-ruled-against-therein” work.
      You’re thinking of Alfords.
      They have a month to appeal, ergo the saponaceous Mr Bookshelves has a month to f*ck it up.

    3. [email protected]

      Brilliant, I hope you are highly active and participating in social change movements with a mind like that. One have you rolled over and died?

  2. [email protected]

    The seven yr law also applies to other protected areas like Woomera – its not been enforced before as far as I know because it would not be sustained under serious legal challenge in the high court. I was a protestor in 2002 & one of a few who broke into the base – what we did was suppressed and some grannies were arrested out the front – the pilgrims could use previous practice like this to challenge the law.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details

Sending...