The NSW Government will immediately put in place tougher regulations to crack down on illegal protests disrupting Greater Sydney.
The Roads Amendment (Major Bridges and Tunnels) Regulation 2022 will be made to make it an offence to disrupt any bridge or tunnel across Greater Sydney. The regulation is made under s144G of the Roads Act 1993, but currently only applies to disruption on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The NSW Government will then bring legislation to Parliament to expand s144G beyond bridges and tunnels to roads and industrial and transport facilities more generally.
Section 144G carries a maximum penalty of 200 penalty units ($22,000) or imprisonment for two years, or both.
Acting Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said these measures were critical to deter future illegal protests across Sydney.
“The penalties currently in place have clearly not deterred protestors who continue to block roads across Sydney, disrupting transport networks, freight chains, production lines and everyday commuters getting to work or to school – and it can’t keep happening,” Mr Toole said.
“Unauthorised protests have no place in our State, and these tighter laws and tougher penalties we’re introducing prove we have zero tolerance for this selfish, disruptive and unruly behaviour.”
Attorney General Mark Speakman said it was essential to quickly expand the existing regime.
“Following the events of recent days, I worked with Minister Ward to urgently review existing laws. We are strengthening them to deter mayhem being inflicted upon ordinary citizens,” Mr Speakman said.
Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said the change to the regulation will ensure there are severe penalties for future protestors looking to block bridges and tunnels across Greater Sydney.
“Protestors who stop daily commuters getting to work in the morning and home in the afternoon put themselves and drivers at risk and have no place on NSW roads,” Mrs Ward said.
“Under these changes, protestors who block major routes including the Spit Bridge and the Western Distributor will now face harsher penalties, aligned to the disruption they create across the road network.”