THE next state election may not be until 2019, but that hasn’t stopped State Opposition Leader Luke Foley announcing plans to tear down the anti-protest policy currently wrecking the Baird Government’s image on the Northern Rivers.

Speaking in Lismore yesterday, Mr Foley pledged to repeal the Coalition’s controversial laws if voted into government in three years.

He stood shoulder to shoulder with the Knitting Nannas Against Gas to make the announcement, who are facing arrests and major fines under the new laws at their latest frontline against unconventional gas mining in the Pilliga region.

Assorted Labor figures were also present including Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell, Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Page Janelle Saffin, Richmond MP Justine Elliott, and Labor’s Energy and Mining spokesman Adam Searle

“I won’t stand for these laws, we’ll sweep them out as soon as there is a change of government in NSW,” Mr Foley declared.

The Opposition Leader said he had “principled and courageous” Northern Rivers locals say to him that they were worried they wouldn’t be able to protest any more “because the punishment was too great”.

“These laws are designed to rebalance the scales in favour of corporate interest against community interest, and I just can’t stand for that,” he said.

“When good people are too scared to raise their voices, bad things happen.

“That’s the history of the world.”

“I can’t make it any clearer that the right to peaceful protest in our democracy just has to be protected by our governments and our parliaments.”

Joking that the “bad news” was any repeal of the laws was at least three years away, Mr Foley told the Knitting Nannas that in the meantime he would fight to protect the rights and funding for organisations such as the Environmental Defender’s Office.

They have played a critical role in educating landowners about their rights and assisting relevant legal cases.

CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesman Ian Gaillard said despite the anti-protest laws people would continue to “stand up” and do something “if the conflict was brought right to their home”.

He said CSG Free Northern Rivers was not party political but “we’ll go with who is going to do something about this stupidity.”



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