Who could oppose a Freedom of Access Bill? Don't we all want free access? However, it seems that the Local Government (Freedom of Access) Amendment Bill is rather misleadingly titled.
Rather than being about freedom of access, it gives additional powers to councils and enforcement agencies to stop/remove protests on public land lasting longer than five days. This would stop any form of sustained public protest as seen at Bastion Point, Moutoa Gardens or the various Occupy protests here and overseas.
The bill will clarify the law to ensure those who obstruct council officers from performing their duties, or who fail to give true and sufficiently particular details when required, are liable to be arrested without a warrant by police. It also widens the scope in which an enforcement officer may remove and seize property.
This bill does not infringe on the right to peacefully protest.
It ensures the rights of members of the public to express their opinions in the form of protests and demonstrations on such land, but enables councils to prevent protests from becoming live-in occupations where tents and structures impede use of the land by other citizens, and cause property damage and health hazards.
I don't see it this way. To me it looks like an attack on a particular form of political protest, and an attack that is no way justified by anything that has happened to date. Occupations are not that common, and the energy required to sustain them normally requires significant support for a significant political issue.
Does anyone now believe that the Bastion Point protesters should have been evicted after 5 days?
I believe Parliament should reject this private member's bill.