Queensland passes protest laws to ensure safety

The Queensland Government has introduced dangerous attachment device laws to prevent protesters from using devices that have the potential to injure others and themselves.

Under the new laws, people using devices with trip wires or drums reinforced with concrete to obstruct rail lines and roads, or devices embedded with metal or glass sleeves, will face a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment or a $7000 fine.

Police will also have the right to search vehicles and seize dangerous attachment devices if the officer reasonably suspects the devices have been used or are intended to be used to disrupt lawful activity.

Minister for Police and Corrective Services Mark Ryan said the government fully supported the right to protest and these laws would not stop people from protesting lawfully.

“This is about the safety of emergency workers and the safety of the individuals planning to use the devices,” Ryan said.

“It is both the design of these devices and the manner in which they are used which make them potentially dangerous.”

As well as causing danger to people, devices of this nature often require the use of tools such as angle grinders, cold cut saws, hydraulic cutters, hammer drills and jack hammers to remove. Using equipment like this in proximity to someone’s body is a real injury risk.

“For example, devices embedded with metal or those which incorporate glass sleeves have the potential to cause significant injuries to the individual, police, emergency services and community members if removed incorrectly or hastily,” Ryan said.

“Devices that use trip wires or drums reinforced with concrete to obstruct rail lines and roads could result in serious injury or death if individuals are not removed and the trains or vehicles stopped.”

Last month an Adani contract worker was assaulted by anti-coal activists at the company’s rail construction site at Clermont, in the Isaac region of Queensland.

Adani Mining provided footage from a body camera worn by the employee as an evidence for the Queensland police.

Adani spokesperson said its priority was the safety and well-being of its employees and contractors at all times.

“As we have repeatedly said, everyone is entitled to voice their opinion provided they do so in a way that is legal, safe and respectful, and does not put themselves, employees, contractors or community members in harm’s way,” the spokesperson said.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) welcomed the new laws, stating it was “the right step forward” in ensuring the rights of all Queenslanders were upheld.

“I applaud the Palaszczuk Government for acting before someone is seriously injured,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said in support of the laws.

“We’ve seen too much illegal and unsafe behaviour with activists deploying dangerous devices on rail lines and at ports.

“QRC welcomes this commitment to uphold the safety for all Queenslanders, especially those who work on railways, at ports or at other infrastructure projects.”

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