Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Labor Government Must Urgently Appeal to Protect NSW Anti-Disruption Laws


The NSW Shadow Attorney-General, Alister Henskens SC MP, has called on the Minns Labor Government to urgently lodge an expedited appeal against the Supreme Court’s recent single Judge decision in Kvelde v State of New South Wales. 


The Court's decision will open the door to more disruptive protest action if NSW Attorney General Michael Daley fails to lodge an expedited appeal to ensure the anti-disruption laws operate as the NSW Parliament intended. 


Last year, the NSW Coalition passed reasonable and proportionate laws with the full support of the Labor Party to prevent the kinds of disruptive activities that saw Sydney ground to a halt. The community welcomed these laws as a way to prevent the chaos created by blockades of major roads and ports by protestors. 


These laws were carefully considered and balanced the important rights of freedom of speech and political communication against the need to prevent mass disruption and economic damage from protestors. The judgement also raises significant questions of law surrounding the proportionality, which Justice Gageler described in Brown v Tasmania (2017) 216 CLR 328 at [158] as, "a tool of analysis, not a constitutional principle". 


Last month, the Premier said, “You cannot have a situation where our ports are blocked for commerce because one group or another has a political disagreement with another country. That would be hugely damaging to our economy and it would be massively damaging to the reputation of both the state and the country.” 


If the Premier really meant his statements last month then he must get his Attorney-General to lodge an expedited appeal. 


Last week the Premier ruled out further legislative change, leaving an appeal to the NSW Court of Appeal as the only option to save these anti-disruption laws. 


The integrity of our parliamentary democracy is at stake. The untested decision of one judge should not be determining an issue that has enormous consequences for the people of NSW. The decision should be appealed by the NSW Government. 


The choice for the Premier and Attorney-General is clear - they can be on the side of the commuters and businesses of NSW by lodging an appeal, or they can be captive to the leftwing of their party and do nothing.