Home » Australia News Live: Pocock Says Right To Protest ‘fundamental To Democracy’ After Coco Jailing; Andrews Government Unveils New-Look Cabinet

Australia News Live: Pocock Says Right To Protest ‘fundamental To Democracy’ After Coco Jailing; Andrews Government Unveils New-Look Cabinet

Pocock: ‘The right to protest is fundamental to our democracy’

Amy Remeikis

NSW Labor may be defending the laws which have led to Violet Coco’s long sentence for a non-violent protest, but ACT independent senator David Pocock has taken a more nuanced view.

In 2014, while still a Wallabies player, Pocock was arrested for chaining himself to mining equipment in a protest against a new coal mine in NSW.

Locked on selfie with 5th generation farmer, @Ricklaird14, protesting Whitehaven's new coalmine in Leard State Forest pic.twitter.com/VkgIYlZgYu

— David Pocock (@DavidPocock) November 29, 2014n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/DavidPocock/status/538785407647744000?s=20&t=dsVuzqJydf6JchqxUvLLng”,”id”:”538785407647744000″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”ebd7a00e-0b14-4399-8012-8a9c9f22451a”}}”>

Now a senator, who won his seat by campaigning on increasing climate action and transparency, Pocock said the news of Coco’s sentence “gets at the challenge we have of regulating protest”.

In considered and obviously thought-through comments, Pocock said he believed Coco’s 15-month jail sentence – with an eight month non-parole period – fell on the wrong side of the line balancing the right to protest and the inconvenience it caused everyday life.

Asked for his thoughts on Coco’s sentence, Pocock told the Guardian:

This news gets at the challenge we have of regulating protest. As a society we want to balance the importance and value of protest and civil disobedience against the inconvenience it can cause to everyday life.

Anti-protest laws that result in a 15-month jail sentence, with an eight-month non-parole period and no bail during the appeal process, falls on the wrong side of that line. The right to protest is fundamental to our democracy. Many of the rights we now take for granted were off the back of people willing to risk their civil liberties to raise their concerns and push the conversation on issues that affect all of us.

We look to China and Iran with disbelief at how protesters are treated abroad. But democracy is fragile and ours is not immune.

We must protect our ability to disagree, to voice dissent publicly and, if needed, to protest. We don’t have to look far to see the disastrous consequences of failing to protect the right to protest. Nor to understand why so many young people are so deeply concerned about the changes global warming is causing right around them.

Every time I meet a group of school kids touring Parliament House, climate change very quickly comes up as the issue they’re most concerned about. And rightly so. For so many of them they feel helpless in the face of the changes they’re already seeing.

And many of them have tried the options available to them – writing to their MP, conducting local protests and huge, unprecedented strikes. And still they are not seeing the urgency or scale of action required to create a safe future.

I think history will view people like Violet quite differently from the way many see her today. As Mignon McLaughlin put it: ‘Every society honours its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers.’

David Pocock: ‘We must protect our ability to … voice dissent publicly and, if needed, to protest.’ Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

The Global Times – a Chinese state media tabloid known for its nationalistic takes on international developments – has published an article warning Australia against “playing with fire”.

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The article is in response to news that a group of six Australian MPs from both Labor and the Coalition is travelling to Taiwan, a self-governed democracy that China claims as a province.

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We are yet to see any formal response from China’s foreign ministry, and the Global Times article is relatively muted in the scheme of things. But the article includes this passage:

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n

Those who play with fire will perish by it. The politicians from certain countries who visit Taiwan to seek limelight are like [the] political god of plague and pestilence. They bring nothing but risks and tension to Taiwan and no benefit to their own countries, and they also hijack their own countries’ China policy. As the Australian MPs’ Taiwan visit is under way, it has already generated negative impacts on the China-Australia relationship.

n

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It is the first such trip by Australian MPs to Taiwan since 2019, prior to the Covid pandemic. Anthony Albanese has previously been on such a trip (when he was in opposition) but this trip includes no government ministers.

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When asked on Saturday about this trip, Albanese played down any suggestion it could inflame tensions with China, saying:

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n

No, there have been backbench visits to Taiwan for a long time. This is another one. This isn’t a government visit. There remains a bipartisan position when it comes to China and when it comes to support for the status quo on Taiwan.

n

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GMT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1670216832000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”05.07 GMT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1670216285000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”04.58 GMT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”04.58″,”title”:”Chinese state media warns Australia not to ‘play with fire’”,”contributors”:[{“name”:”Daniel Hurst”,”imageUrl”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2020/03/30/Dan_Hurst.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=a5af531a12fe1dac65af586a33e46f25″,”largeImageUrl”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2020/03/30/Dan_Hurst.png?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=841ba2989a73d161b6a26127a9274808″}],”primaryDateLine”:”Mon 5 Dec 2022 05.08 GMT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Sun 4 Dec 2022 20.42 GMT”},{“id”:”638d69008f08ec68b601877b”,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

The minister for the NDIS and government services, Bill Shorten, has launched the myGov app at the Opera House.

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Shorten has high hopes for the app – that it takes on the same iconic status as Sydney’s white sails.

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He said:

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n

Good morning everybody and welcome here to Australia’s iconic Opera House. It’s about 50 years ago that the Opera House was opened and now, 50 years on, it’s a national icon. I’m hoping that our myGov app that we’re launching here today won’t take 50 years, but I’m hoping it becomes iconic for quality government services to everyday Australians.

n

I’m really pleased to be announcing this morning that at long last, long overdue, we now have a myGov app.

n

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