29th November 2023 09:51
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan) (09:51):

Our democracy, rooted in the Westminster system, is most dear to us, but across the country the right to peaceful protest to exercise our democratic voice is being eroded.

We saw laws passed in the previous Parliament outlawing peaceful protests against logging, with fines of up to $21,000 or 12 months in prison.

This year we had legislation designed to stop protests against the abuse of animals, including in the horse racing industry, with similarly punitive intent.

Those of us amongst the three-quarters of a million cannabis consumers in Victoria also saw police powers arbitrarily abused as police searched, detained, arrested and harassed citizens at the otherwise peaceful 420 cannabis rally in April.

We have seen governments of both persuasions persecute whistleblowers like David McBride or wantonly ignore the persecution of heroes like Julian Assange.

In this context I would like to shout out to the school strikers, be they fighting against climate change or the genocide in Palestine.

To those young Australians I say: be critical, be sceptical, be loud, be angry, be united and most of all demand change. You are fighting for your country, for your democracy and for your future, and we are with you.


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