Labor Government to Repeal Draconian Move-On Laws

On Tuesday 10 February, the Andrews Labor Government introduced legislation to repeal the Liberals’ draconian and unnecessary move-on laws, which were designed to criminalise peaceful protest in Victoria.

The Summary Offences Amendment (Move-On Laws) Bill 2015 will deliver on the Labor Government’s election commitment to restore the balance between the right of citizens to protest peacefully and the right of police to act against unlawful blockades.

Laws introduced by the former government created five additional grounds for the use of move-on powers and were an unnecessary addition to existing laws already effectively covering protests or criminal conduct.

Prior to the introduction of these excessive laws, Victoria Police already had the power to give a “move-on” direction to a person to leave a public place. Such a direction could be given if a police officer suspected on reasonable grounds that a person is:

· Breaching, or likely to breach, the peace;

· Endangering or likely to endanger the safety of another person or damage to property; or

· The behaviour of the person is likely to cause injury to a person or damage to property, or is otherwise a risk to public safety.

Under the Bill to be introduced today, Victoria Police will retain those powers to respond to illegal protests.

They will also retain the ability to enforce a number of offences – such as trespass, besetting and obstruction of roads and footpaths. Unlawful and violent protests will trigger police arrest powers and result in the prosecution of those involved.

Individuals and businesses can also take measures to prevent unlawful protest and seek compensation for illegal activity, including injunctions or the recovery of damages resulting from illegal activity through the courts.