Running strategic climate litigation

“Australians like us shouldn’t have to risk imprisonment or bankruptcy to participate in our democracy, and the Government should not be taking away our democratic freedoms.” – Dominique.

In April 2022, the NSW Government passed sweeping amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and the Roads Act 1993 (NSW). These new laws impose gaol terms of up to 2 years and/or fines of up to $22,000 on protestors who cause disruption to major roads or facilities.

Under the new laws, peaceful protestors gathering at accessible central locations, such as Sydney’s Town Hall or Central Station, could face imprisonment simply if their presence causes a person wanting to use the facility to be redirected.

Across NSW, these laws have intimidated and silenced community advocates such as the Knitting Nannas, an environmental advocacy group whose peaceful protest action has long sounded alarm about climate change.

Dominique and Helen are members of the Knitting Nannas, and they have launched a legal challenge against the new laws. They have asked the NSW Supreme Court to declare the Crimes Act amendment invalid as it unlawfully burdens the implied freedom of political communication protected by the Constitution. They are also arguing that the Minister’s power to declare something a ‘major road’ in the Roads Act is too broad.

The Environmental Defenders Office is representing Dominique and Helen in their challenge. Grata Fund has provided financial backing to remove the barriers of adverse costs.