Government spying on activists
THE Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, has secretly pushed for increased surveillance by federal police intelligence officers of environmental activists who have been protesting peacefully at coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities.
Documents released to the Herald under freedom of information laws confirm the police are "continually monitoring" anti-coal mining and other environmental groups. Much of the intelligence collection is carried out for the federal police by a private contractor, the National Open Source Intelligence Centre, in Melbourne.
The documents reveal that Mr Ferguson, prompted by lobbying from energy companies, has urged stronger criminal penalties against protests that disrupt "critical energy infrastructure".
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The Greens leader, Bob Brown, condemned the surveillance, saying it was "intolerable that the federal Labor government is spying on conservation groups" and wanting to "criminalise political protest".
Documents released by the Resources, Energy and Tourism Department reveal Mr Ferguson wrote to the then attorney-general, Robert McClelland, in September 2009 to raise "concerns of issues-motivated activism, and the possibility of disruptions to critical energy infrastructure sites".
Read more at Brisbanetimes.com.au