June 19, 2007
INDIVIDUALS do not need to be told they are on a list of "excludable persons" from this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Sydney - they should just know, says the office of the NSW Police Minister.
The extraordinary response came as a collection of left-leaning groups criticised the proposed laws around APEC as draconian and an unreasonable curb on the right to protest.
The APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007, which will be debated in the lower house this week, would allow the Police Commissioner to create a secret list of people who are excluded from APEC security areas.
Asked how an individual would know if they were on the list, a spokesman for the Police Minister, David Campbell, said: "Those who have been involved in violent and disruptive protests in the past will most likely be on this list. They won't need to be informed - they know who they are," he said.
The Greens upper house member Sylvia Hale said: "The worst aspect of the APEC bill is this notion that police will compile a list of people and possibly organisations, which without any fundamental justification can be listed as excludable persons," she said. "It's frighteningly reminiscent of what happened in communist East Germany."
The Greens, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and student activists from the main APEC protest group, the Stop Bush Coalition, are united against the APEC laws.
They have also criticised police over allegations detailed in yesterday's Herald that an officer tried to blackmail an activist into spying on his fellow protesters.
Daniel Jones, 20, said he was asked to to spy on his fellow activists with the expectation police would "help out" with charges he was facing over his protests at last year's G20 in Melbourne.
The NSW Council of Civil Liberties said it was not surprised police were attempting to recruit informers. "There is a long, long history in NSW of police harassing legitimate protesters," the secretary of the council, Stephen Blanks, said.
A spokesman for the Stop Bush Coalition, Alex Banbridge, said he had heard of stories from other activists who felt they had been directly intimidated by authorities to stay away from any APEC protests.
Mr Campbell's spokesman said "police use any number of methods to gather intelligence about individuals and organisations".