Who Are The Fun Police Really Policing In NSW?


NSW has become the biggest party pooper state in the country, writes Jenny Leong.

For a government that is supposedly ‘liberal’, and who values individual freedoms, the Berejiklian Government has becoming increasingly interested in regulating people’s private lives.

While the wowserism of this government has provoked outrage, the double standards are breathtaking: at a time when our personal freedoms are being progressively restricted, major corporations are enjoying a golden age – at our expense.

The overregulation of festivals has become the latest in a chain of events where the government has cracked down hard on innocent people on the dance floor. The fun police have been out in force these past few years – first sniffer dogs, then the lockouts, then banning protests and public assembly and now music festivals.

On the other hand, the big end of town have been shown the red carpet, and troublesome council or environmental regulations have been quietly done away with to allow massive developments. If (say) you are a multi-million dollar company, wanting to put a polluting exhaust stack from a road tunnel near schools and homes – the Berejiklian government will find a way make it happen. No proper environmental monitoring? No consideration of the health impacts on the community? No public benefit? No problem! They’ll help you get a billion dollar project off the ground.

But if you like going out dancing all night, check out a live music gig or go to a festival – be warned! Police with sniffer dogs may intimidate or harass you as you pass through Redfern station or the bag check. If you are unlucky, you could cop a body search without a warrant. If you decide to ride your bike instead, you may cop a big fine if you are caught riding on the footpath (never mind that last time you tried riding on a main road you nearly died).

Say you decide to protest about it – like the thousands who gathered to protest the ridiculous lockout laws, and who managed to get 10,000 signatures on a petition which I presented to Parliament. Well now you can be fined between $1,000 and $11,000 for peacefully protesting on crown land.

The Greens were the only party in the NSW Parliament who opposed the lockouts – and we remain committed to overturning those laws. We’ll introduce Bills to repeal the Sydney lockout laws and ban the use of sniffer dogs in public spaces.

This is about people living in a democracy having the right to dance and have fun, gather together and have opinions. And it’s also about rolling back the special deals that have been given to big corporations and vested interests, so that they are required to act for the public good.

Jenny Leong is the State Member for the Electorate of Newtown in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. Jenny was elected to parliament at the NSW state election on 28 March 2015. Prior to entering parliament, Jenny worked for a number of years with Amnesty International as a crisis coordinator and campaign manager in London, Hong Kong, and Sydney. At Amnesty International, she oversaw the organisation’s response to the Middle East & North Africa Uprising and worked to protect freedom of expression in the lead up to the 2010 Burma elections. She has also held the position of Manager of Community Arts and Cultural Development at the Australia Council for the Arts. Jenny has been an active member of The Greens for over a decade. In 2013, she worked as the Federal Election Campaign Coordinator for the NSW Greens.