First they came for the BDS, and I did not speak out...
(with apologies to Martin Niemoller)
Victorian Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik has written a piece for the New Matilda website on a move by the Victorian Government to crack down on the right to protest. She writes that:
"The Summary Offences & Sentencing Amendment Bill 2013, which has not yet been debated in state parliament, significantly expands the circumstances in which police... may direct a person, or group of people, to 'move on' from a public place for up to 24 hours... Currently... 'move on' powers can be exercised if a person is or is likely to breach the peace, endanger or likely to endanger the safety of any other person... Move on powers do not apply in relation to picketing a place of employment or when demonstrating or protesting about a particular issue." (Two ways Victoria is clamping down on protest, 13/2/14)
She adds: "No evidence has been produced or case been made for this significant extension of of police powers against the rights of citizens to protest."
Significantly, does Pennicuik speculate on the government's motive. My guess is that this new legislation is BDS-related:
"The Victorian government will investigate whether tougher legislation is needed to prevent political protests closing down businesses, after a magistrate found in favour of anti-Israel demonstrators targeting the Max Brenner chocolate shop chain." (Baillieu seeks to toughen protest laws, Pia Akerman & John Ferguson, The Australian, 25/7/12) (For details of same, see my 25/7/12 post Finessing It in the Victorian & NSW Knessets.)
If I'm right, the question arises: Why is Pennicuik silent on the matter?
Are they under the thumb of the Israel lobby?
Here's my evidence for asking:
1) "Greens MPs in the Victorian parliament will be forced to declare whether they support a boycott of goods and services from Israel... Health Minister David Davis urged Greens MPs across the nation to state their position on the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. Mr Davis said that if the Greens in Victoria did not publicly state their opposition to the ban he would introduce a motion to force a vote on the issue... Two of the three upper house Greens MPs yesterday refused to reveal their attitudes on the boycott, while the third [Sue Pennicuik] did not return calls." (Bid to expose Greens on Israel, John Ferguson, The Australian, 29/4/11)
2) "Support for the BDS movement by the NSW Greens was a huge mistake, admitted Senator Richard Di Natale at the Limmud Oz conference last weekend... [Di Natale] appeared on a panel with MPs Colleen Hartland and Sue Pennicuik and Jewish educator Ittay Flescher, who probed the Greens on their policy affecting Israel..."* (BDS was a huge mistake, admit Greens, The Australian Jewish News, 15/6/12)
If the Victorian Greens are simply too spineless to get behind Palestinian rights and the BDS movement, what confidence can we have that they will have the spine to stand up to the state government's bid to snuff out the right to peaceful protest?
[*Are you now, or have you ever been, a supporter of the BDS movement?]