Rights groups welcome review of NSW 'anti-protest' laws

Laws that threaten jail time for unauthorised protests on major roads will undergo fresh scrutiny in NSW, pleasing civil libertarians.

The two-year-old laws criticised by rights groups including Amnesty International were introduced with bipartisan support following a series of environmental protests that disrupted traffic and Sydney's main port.

Two elements of the changes have since been invalidated by the NSW Supreme Court for interfering with the implied right to political communication.

NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley has confirmed a review would occur to determine whether the laws remained fit for purpose.

The statutory review led by the justice department will involve public consultation.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties was among the 37 organisations and 1000 individuals who wrote to the attorney-general this week demanding the review.

"These laws create a chilling effect on civil movements and social progress," president Lydia Shelly said on Friday.

"Whilst we haven't yet overturned the laws, we have achieved a major milestone today and it is worth a pause to celebrate."

Extensive disruptions to ports and roads including a three-day blockage of Port Botany prompted the rapid passing of the laws carrying penalties of up to two years in jail and fines of up to $22,000.

"Enough is enough," Police Minister Paul Toole said in 2022. 

"These kinds of acts are just disgraceful."

Critics say the laws are being used to excessively police peaceful protests including those at Port Botany related to the Gaza conflict.

"This review will provide an opportunity for people at the grassroots to share their experiences and record the disproportionate response from the frankly ridiculous bail conditions and charges resulting from these unjust and unnecessary laws," Australian Democracy Network protest rights campaigner Anastasia Radievska said on Friday.

The results of the review will be tabled in parliament in October. 

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